Fitness + Well-being

Church-Goers Less Likely to be Smokers, Survey Says


There's a strong correlation between smoking and church attendance, a recent survey by Gallup found.

After asking a group of over 350,000 adult participants from the U.S. if they smoke, the polling firm reported that the number of smokers "increases in a linear fashion as church attendance decreases," meaning that non-smokers are more likely to attend church. In fact, the poll determined that only 12 percent of those who identified as smokers attended church at least once a week, while 30 percent of those who identified as smokers said they don't attend church at all.

Gallup was also careful to account for certain demographic characteristics, which included age (older folks are less likely to smoke but attend church more regularly), sex (men are more likely to smoke and more likely to skip church) and marital status (married couples smoke less, attend church more often). Yet even with these factors, Gallup still claims to have determined "a statistically significant relationship with smoking." The same rings true after accounting for education, income and ethnicity, too.

Despite these findings, Gallup claims they cannot determine a causation, but they did put forth a number of theories. They hypothesized that smokers could be shunned in certain religious groups, or that the addictive personality that leads to smoking could somehow mentally prevent a smoker from attending church.

On the flip side, Gallup also proposed the idea that church-goers avoid smoking as part of their religious beliefs. As an example, they put forth the notion that Mormons might smoke less because of a Mormon doctrine that specifically forbids smoking, citing the low percentage of Mormon smokers (8 percent) as compared with the percentage of Americans who smoke regardless of religious affiliation (20 percent).

Church-goers aside, religious identification also factored into the results. Of the participants polled, those with no religious affiliation smoked the most (26 percent), followed by Muslims (23 percent), Protestants/other Christians (20 percent), Catholics (18 percent), Jews (10 percent) and Mormons (8 percent).