Religious Services and Smoking
Special Report - August 31, 2009
Growing up in an intact family that attends religious services regularly appears to decrease the likelihood of smoking as an adult, according to the latest report from the Mapping America Project at the Family Research Council. The report, which is based on an analysis of data from the General Social Surveys (or GSS), is the latest from the Mapping America Project to highlight the lifelong effects of religious attendance and family structure for both children and adults. Researchers compared the smoking habits of adults based on their family structure (intact vs. non-intact) and frequency of religious attendance (monthly or more frequently vs. less than monthly or never). Intact families were defined in the report as families with both biological parents (married or unmarried), and non-intact families were defined as families without both biological parents, including married step-parent families, cohabiting step-parent families, divorced and single parent families.
According to the report, 31 percent of adults who attended church at least once a month and lived with both biological parents as children currently smoke, compared to 44 percent of adults who attended church less than monthly and grew up in a non-intact family structure. Among adults who attended church at least monthly but did not grow up in an intact family, 42 percent currently smoked, while 36 percent of adults who attended church less than monthly but grew up in an intact family currently smoked.
“As the evidence demonstrates, frequent religious attendance and intact families are just what the surgeon general ordered,” write the authors of the report, Drs. Pat Fagan, Director of FRC’s Center for Family and Religion, and Althea Nagai, a visiting fellow with FRC.
In addition to a decreased likelihood of smoking as an adult, previous Mapping America Project reports have shown that an intact family structure and regular religious attendance also decreases the chances that a child will have to repeat a grade, be expelled or suspended from school, or engage in a variety of risky behaviors, ranging from early sexual activity to drug use.
“The latest findings from the Mapping America Project provide further evidence of the importance of family and faith to our children’s well being, including the choices they make as adults,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “Even unhealthy behavioral choices as adults, such as smoking, are impacted by a child’s family structure and the level of religious activity in that family. This is one more good reason to focus our attention as a state and nation on helping support and protect the intact married family.”
Copyright © 2009. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.