Religious youths less likely to smoke

Youths who consider themselves religious are less likely to smoke than those who do not practice a religious faith, concludes a recent article in Adolescence that analyzed 29 studies that examined the influence of religion on tobacco use in adolescents.

“Religion was inversely related to all measures of tobacco use (lifetime, occasional, and regular use), but the findings suggest religion’s primary effect is its prohibitive influence against ever using tobacco.”

Encouraging teenagers to become involved in religious life might be beneficial to those seeking to avoid tobacco, the researchers note. While the effect of religion on tobacco use was relatively small, accounting for less than 10% of the variation in tobacco use, the authors write that faith-based intervention programs may be effective in helping teens in both recognizing and resisting the social pressures to smoke.

Faith-based tobacco cessation programs could also be effective with teens, especially in communities with minority groups that have a high level of religious participation.

The authors speculate that religion might have a protective effect by giving adolescents emotional balance and a sense of meaning and purpose. Religious faith may also convey values about substance use.

The primary effect of religion on smoking may be its effect on lifetime use, the researchers say, by inihibiting adolescents from trying cigarettes.

“A review of research on the effects of religion on adolescent tobacco use published between 1990 and 2003″ Adolescence Volume 40 Number 160 Winter 2005 Pps. 761-776.

Published in ERN April 2006 Volume 19 Number 4

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