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The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and leaders from multiple religious denominations have launched a national campaign — Faith United Against Tobacco — to mobilize the faith community to support proven solutions to reduce smoking.

Religious leaders have long played a critical role in addressing the nation’s social challenges, especially in protecting children and other vulnerable people. Helping to reduce tobacco use, the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, is a natural extension of these efforts. The faith community can be a powerful force in protecting our children and reducing the terrible toll of tobacco.

Religious groups participating in this campaign include United Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, National Council of Churches, Seventh Day Adventists, American Muslim Foundation, Southern Baptist Convention, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, Church Women United, Church of the Brethren and Islamic Society of North America.

Activities undertaken by faith leaders include the following:

  • In March of 2010, Faith United Against Tobacco participated in Kick Butts Day, a national day of youth standing up and speaking out against Big Tobacco. Several faith groups across the nation created unique events to highlight Big Tobacco's dirty tricks leading to major national faith groups committing to expand their participation in 2011.

  • In 2009, Faith United Against Tobacco helped engage local and state faith leaders to support tobacco tax increases and were successful in 15 states. Higher prices on tobacco products means less kids will start using them and more adults will seek to quit.

  • On June 22, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act. For years, Faith United Against Tobacco worked with public health partners to make the case for tobacco regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Several national faith leaders were able to attend the signing to see the historic legislation signed into law.

  • Between January and March 2009, national, state and local faith leaders stood united in calling on the United States Congress to pass life-saving legislation to authorize the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products. More than 25 national denominations generated hundreds of phone calls and letters, submitted op-eds, and held press conferences across the country, including great events in Arkansas, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.

  • In January 2008, more than 20 national faith leaders sent letters to governors in all 50 states urging them to support increases in state funding for comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation programs at levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • In August 2006, more than 20 national faith leaders sent letters to all candidates for U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives urging them to support legislation authorizing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco products.

  • In August 2006, prominent faith leaders from the United Methodist Church and the Seventh-day Adventists sent a letter on behalf of Faith United Against Tobacco to the National Conference of State Legislators strongly urging that states fully fund tobacco prevention programs.

  • On Kick Butts Day, April 5, 2006, a diverse coalition of faith leaders, including the United Methodists and the Southern Baptists, called upon Congress to support legislation authorizing the FDA to regulate tobacco products.

  • On World No Tobacco Day, May 31, 2006, an interfaith coalition launched Kentucky Faith United to Reduce Tobacco Use. This coalition, which includes United Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and the Catholic Conference, will work for comprehensive policies to reduce smoking in Kentucky.

  • In Spring 2006, hundreds of Ohio faith leaders came together to form Ohio Faith United Against Tobacco to call upon the Ohio Congressional Delegation to support legislation authorizing the FDA to regulate tobacco products. They also announced the launch of their Web site.

  • In 2005 and 2006, the Hoosier Faith and Health Coalition brought together more than 400 faith groups from across the state to successfully defend the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program (ITPC) from proposed cuts that would have crippled the ITPC's effective anti-smoking programs.

  • In 2006, a diverse coalition of New Jersey faith leaders worked to enact a landmark smoke-free workplace law in New Jersey by holding faith events across the state, including a highly successful event called “Smoke-free Sabbath” where clergy in more than 100 places of worship called for a Smoke-Free New Jersey. Read the Trenton Times article.

How You Can Help

  • Work with your denomination to sign a Teen Smoking Reduction Resolution in your state.

  • Help us to coordinate a faith/tobacco control meeting or a press conference in your state or city.

  • Plan a Kick Butts Day event.

For more information, contact Vinny DeMarco at demarco@mdinitiative.org.