Success Story

Encouraging Smoking Cessation Through Faith

LCHC continues to transform health outcomes by encouraging smoking cessation one congregation at a time.


Partnership With Faith Institutions Improves Smoking Behaviors Amongst Congregations

The Leadership Council for Healthy Communities (LCHC) has established a model for tobacco
cessation programs to be implemented in faith institutions across the Washington, DC area.
Through coordination between LCHC staff members and faith leaders, LCHC has been able to
get over 50% congregant exposure to the availability of tobacco cessation programs and establish a “No Smoking” policy within the selected faith institution.

The American Cancer Society reports that each year about 438,000 people in the United
States die from illnesses related to cigarette smoking, equating to more deaths than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, homicide, illegal drugs, and the number of soldiers who died in the
Iraq war combined. The impact of tobacco usage is also felt in Washington, DC where over 800
DC residents die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. This is particularly exacerbated within
our target populations of underserved African-American communities. LCHC specifically targets
faith institutions who serve these populations, utilizing the faith community’s powerful networks
to spread messages. LCHC REACH Lead for Tobacco Cessation, Donna Ruffin, coordinated with Reverend Connie Gore of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church to submit the idea for tobacco cessation programs to church leadership. Using phone calls to congregant households, text messages and social media posts, the team was able to inform the congregation of the tobacco cessation presentations and had 40 registrants and over 50% attendees during the first session.

In order to encourage ongoing abstinence from tobacco products and healthier lifestyles, a “No
Smoking” policy was implemented in the church and created an opportunity for extended
outreach to the entire community. Smoking cessation pamphlets were shared with the retail store across the street from the church, each encasing a “Quit-Now” card, allowing for greater
outreach event beyond the immediate surrounding areas.

A participant of the program shared their commitment to living a smoke-free lifestyle saying, “I have made up my mind to stop smoking – it has gotten expensive and it is bad for my health. I know it is now or never.”
The Leadership Council for Healthy Communities will continue to advocate for tobacco
cessation and hopes to model this program through other health ministries within their network.

Through the REACH CORE funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
LCHC has been able to transform a church policy towards smoking and encourage a congregation and community to quit smoking.


“I have made up my mind to stop smoking – it has gotten expensive and it is bad for my health. I know it is now or never.”

A former smoker

LCHC Program Participant