Background: Cigarette smoking is a widespread problem around the world. In Israel, the prevalence of smoking is 23%. Smokers who are Orthodox abstain from smoking during the Sabbath, i.e., from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, due to a religious prohibition. The prevalence of smoking among Orthodox men is 13%. However, there are no data on patterns of smoking or on the addiction profiles in this population.
Objectives: To explore the smoking patterns, motivation for smoking and nicotine addiction among Orthodox Jewish men, compared to non-Orthodox men, as well as the differences in the urge to smoke and withdrawal symptoms on Saturday versus weekdays in the Orthodox group.
Methods: The participants completed the Fagerstrom test for nicotine dependence, questionnaires on reasons for smoking and smoking patterns, as well as two brief questionnaires on the urge to smoke and withdrawal symptoms after overnight abstinence on a weekday and after the end of the Sabbath.
Results: Both groups were strongly addicted to nicotine and there were no differences in the reasons for smoking, withdrawal symptoms and nicotine craving after an overnight abstinence on weekdays. However, religious smokers had low levels of craving for nicotine and few withdrawal symptoms during Sabbath abstinence when compared to weekdays.
Conclusions: Although we found no difference in the baseline characteristics with regard to nicotine addiction, smoking motivation, urge to smoke and withdrawal symptoms between religious and non-religious groups, the former are able to abstain from smoking during 25 hours of the Sabbath every week with significantly fewer withdrawal symptoms compared to week days.