“We, in the faith community, know too well the health consequences of smoking and the toll tobacco use takes on families and communities in the form of disease and premature death,” says Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, ABHMS managing director of Resource Development and representative to Faiths United Against Tobacco. “We know what needs to be done to protect children and families from the toll tobacco takes, and we have a moral obligation to reduce smoking and protect everyone from exposure to second-hand smoke.”
The “American Baptist Resolution on the Promotion and Sale of Tobacco by U.S. Firms”—adopted by the General Board of American Baptist Churches USA in June 1991—includes language that supports a smoke-free society and guidance for youth in choosing a tobacco-free lifestyle, while it condemns practices related to the production and marketing of tobacco products.
Ramsey-Lucas points out that “the death and disease caused by tobacco is not a Christian issue, a Muslim issue, or a Jewish issue but a human one. It’s a serious challenge to all faiths. We cannot stand idly by while tobacco use continues to be the number one preventable cause of death and disease in the country.”
‘Tips’ Ads Make Hidden Suffering Visible
Sharing the experiences of cancer, stroke or premature birth is a powerful way to communicate the risks and harsh reality of the wide variety of severe health problems that can result from smoking. Statistics show that Americans pay a high price in illnesses and deaths due to tobacco use. Cigarette smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke cause more than 480,000 deaths a year in the United States. They are also among the main causes of early disability.1
For every person who dies from smoking, 30 more suffer from illnesses related to smoking1, including asthma, Buerger’s Disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
“I’ve been a practicing physician who’s helped patients quit, and treated some of the terrible diseases in those who didn’t quit in time,” says Dr. Timothy McAfee, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “The message of the ‘Tips’ campaign is simple: Quit smoking now. Or better yet—don’t start. Studies show that the sooner you quit the better. And there is nothing you can do to add more years to your life than to quit smoking. Working with faith-based groups can make such a difference. We have a real opportunity here to tip the scales.”
The “Tips” ads appear on TV and radio, in print, and online in English and Spanish. CDC launched the first “Tips” campaign in 2012 to further lower smoking rates, save lives and prevent the kind of suffering shown in the ads. “Tips” campaigns in 2013 and 2014 expanded on the success of the first campaign. The 2012 effort inspired an estimated 1.6 million Americans to make an attempt to quit smoking, of which at least 100,000 people are expected to remain smoke-free.2
All of the people featured in the ad campaign hope their stories will help other smokers quit. As one participant put it, “Make a list. Put the people you love at the top. Put down your eyes, your legs, your kidneys and your heart. Now cross off all the things you’re OK with losing because you’d rather smoke.”
Available are free resources, including a reproducable bulletin insert and an ABHMS “Faces and Places of Hope” podcast with Ramsey-Lucas. Faith leaders can access a Faiths United Against Tobacco webinar at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. EDT on July 29. For additional resources, visit the CDC’s website at www.CDC.gov or call the National QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2014 [accessed 2014 April 26].
- McAfee, T.; Davis, K.C.; Alexander, R.L.; Pechacek, T.F.; Bunnel, R. Effect of the First Federally Funded U.S. Antismoking National Media Campaign. The Lancet 2013; 382(9909); 2003–11 [cited 2014 April 26].
American Baptist Home Mission Societies—the domestic mission arm of American Baptist Churches USA—ministers as the caring heart and serving hands of Jesus Christ across the United States and Puerto Rico through a multitude of initiatives that focus on discipleship, community and justice.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.