Study: Religion helps smokers
kick the habit
May 15, 1996
Web posted at: 9:50 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Jeff Levine
BALTIMORE, Maryland (CNN) -- A new study of African-Americans, released Wednesday by Johns Hopkins University, shows that smokers who want to quit make more progress against the "evil weed" with prayer as a weapon.
Joyce Tucker can attest to the power of prayer. Today she is a reformed smoker. But she had to look for divine help to conquer a habit she picked up when she was a teen-ager.
"The first time I tried to quit, I tried on my own, but the second time, I used prayer as my source first, and He answered it," she said.
Although new information on the dangers of smoking is released on an almost weekly basis, African-Americans are not abandoning cigarettes as quickly as their white counterparts. Doctors want to know how to change the trend.
Researchers found that in the African-American community, the church has a special power. In the Johns Hopkins experiment, scientists recruited 10 Baltimore churches to offer an intensive quit-smoking program featuring a message from the pulpit.
"We see this as a spiritual issue. Satan desires us to do that which would destroy a body, and so God gives us the will," said Baptist pastor H. Walden Wilson.
At another 10 Baltimore-area churches, only self-help literature was distributed.
After a year, there was a big difference in the quitting smokers' success rates.
"Spiritually based intervention was more effective in helping people quit. In addition, smokers in the intensive spiritually based intervention were three times more likely to make positive progress," said Carolyn Voorhees of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
Joyce Tucker says God helped her when she could not help herself. She has been off cigarettes for five years. "I'm a firm believer that you need Christ in your life. It's just something you feel inside, you know that He's working and He's helping you with this," she said.
The study says the program's success flows from a total spiritual experience, including the Bible and music of faith. The Baptist Church was the most effective in delivering the anti-tobacco liturgy among the African-American community, the study found.
Could prayer turn others away from tobacco? More studies could show how well faith in the Lord can help smokers withstand one of this world's strongest temptations.
- Patches, gum boost smokers' chances of quitting, researchers conclude - March 17, 1996
- Tips for smokers who want to quit - December 31, 1995
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