of Life Project: Models of Success
"Those who tell the stories define the culture."
Walsh, President, National Institute for Media and the Family
implementing public health programs, it is important to connect
with key people, including faith organizations (e.g., C.Perry,
Creating Health Behavior Change: How to Develop Community-Wide
Programs for Youth, Sage Publications 1999, pp. 105-107).
communities in large part have woven the social history and
fabric of norms in the U.S. Historically, religious institutions
carry social threads of such concepts as addiction, disease,
and mind-body issues which relate to community behavior. In
times past, this has contributed either to great social good-such
as in the roots of public health in this country-or, at other
times, great harm. Faith leaders can be major opinion leaders.
Where and when faith communities have been involved in tobacco
education or prevention, policy fruits have been significant:
Philadelphia, and other cities: The Reverend Jesse Brown and
the National Association of African Americans for Positive
Imagery (NAAAPI) has done anti-tobacco advocacy and activism
to highlight and protest tobacco companies' targeting populations
With the help of organizations such as the Interfaith Ministerial
Alliance, United Black Clergy, American Baptist Churches of
the South, Baltimore Jewish Council, various churches, ministry
and youth ministry networks, the Maryland Smoke-Free Coalition
raised the State's cigarette tax through the Maryland Children's
Initiative. As a result, Maryland will have the country's
11th highest cigarette tax and will spend at least $21 million
annually to reduce tobacco use.
The East Bay Region of the ALA, Gulf Coast, has partnered
with St. Matthew's Baptist Church as the home of its Church-Based
Community Tobacco Intervention Project, creating a stronger
health presence in the local minority community and among
The Spirit of Health project, funded by the state's Tobacco
Control Section (TCS), has organized clergy to support and
implement tobacco-related policy initiatives, and the African
American Tobacco Education Network (AATEN, an Ethnic Linkage
project of TCS) has often made headlines in its protests of
tobacco advertising and targeting of populations in urban
Oakland and Los Angeles areas.
Churches Organized to Stop Tobacco (COST, now Churches Organized
to Save Tomorrow) is a partnership of six Boston area churches
and the Medical Foundation, with common goals of tobacco education,
prevention, and treatment.
Louis: The local Clergy Coalition there banded with the
regional ASSIST and American Cancer Society programs to fight
for various bans on tobacco advertising, convince chain drug
stores not to sell menthol Camel cigarettes, and mobilize
its 47,000 membership base on tobacco prevention issues (P.Lindsey,
"Faith Leaders Ban Tobacco Advertising," in No More
Lies: Truth and the Consequences for Tobacco, Case Studies
from the Fourth Annual National Conference on Tobacco and
Health, 1998, St. Paul).
adolescent spirituality among high school students has been
found to be a protective factor against a number of health
risk behaviors such as tobacco use (Resnick et al., Journal
of the American Medical Association, September 10, 1997).
In the words of Gary Gunderson, director of the Interfaith
Health Program (see our Partners): "Faith community connection
can be as beneficial to one's health as tobacco is harmful