Doctor says religion can help people quit smoking

  • 05/10/2017
Doctor says religion can help people quit smoking
Photo credit: Getty

It's not just doctors who should be preaching the importance of giving up smoking, imams and priests can also get involved, a Christchurch conference has heard.

This was because they often had greater influence over religious followers, Dr Muhammad Aziz Rahman from Australia's La Trobe University told the Public Health Association event.

Pointing to how smoking is "haram" or forbidden in Islam, he said religious messages could work hand-in-hand with scientific facts.

"Quitting smoking should be encouraged in any way possible, and religion can also be a motivating factor," he said.

Dr Rahman told how in 2013 he met with the imam at one of Melbourne's largest mosques and asked him if he could remind his 2000 attendees Islam forbids addiction.

The Imam also spoke during weekly meetings about how strong odours left on the body after smoking can interfere with the prayers of non-smokers during prayer session.

These were coupled with science-based handouts explaining the health benefits of quitting.

Dr Rahman said messages, such as "If health warnings don't motivate you to quit, will the fear of Allah?", really captured the attention of those attending the mosque.

He said similar initiatives could be used in other faith groups or religious communities and could target health issues, such as the importance of breastfeeding or preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

"This is a complementary activity to support existing public health programmes," Dr Rahman said.