The Smoke-Free Holy Ground program was founded in 2001 by Bishop Larry Lee Thomas, Pastor of Empowering Believers Church located in Glen Burnie Maryland. The purpose of the program is to educate people about the dangers of tobacco use anywhere on their grounds, inside and out.

Faith-based organizations all over Maryland and the United States have participated in Smoke-Free Holy Ground, including organizations in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Dorchester County, Prince Georges County, Harford County, Cecil County, California, Virginia, and Washington D.C.

The Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program has partnered with Bishop Thomas to expand the Smoke-Free Holy Ground program in Baltimore County and other counties thrughout Maryland. The Health Department will provide assistance to any organization that signs a Smoke-Free Holy Ground Covenant. The partnership is designed to help reduce the toll tobacco takes on our communities.

Smoke Free Holy Ground Initiative

An outreach Ministry of Empowering Believers Church, this project is an initiative designed to educate the community about healthy living through family friendly technology. Smoke Free Holy Ground (SFHG) hopes to educate and bring awareness of the risks to health caused by smoking while promoting tobacco prevention strategies. Ultimately the goal of this initiative is to establish  a covenant with the faith communities in Anne Arundel County, and eventually across Maryland so the stronghold of the drug nicotine can be destroyed.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in Maryland and one out of every five deaths is cause by tobacco. Further environmental tobacco smoke is a primary contributor to the death of more than 50,000 people per year. The center for Disease Control's (CDC) most recent studies found that public health campaigns targeted and tailored to specific groups are important. In accordance with those recommendations, the word of God states that our bodies are the temple of God.

The health department, churches and other community organizations are encouraged to promote Healthy Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs. In doing so, they will be partnering with Bishop Larry Lee Thomas, Sr. Pastor of the Empowering Believers Church in campaigning to:

  • Educate families of all ethnic and racial diversities about the benefits of smoke free living.
  • Establish local churches as a place not only of worship, but also to educate and empower toward healthy lifestyles
  • Utilize the strength of our faith to overcome health disparities that impact the community
  • Establish a system to promote Tobacco use Prevention and Cessation efforts within the faith community

How you can be involved and benefits

Here are the simple steps you can take to make your grounds tobacco free and the benefits your members and community will receive:

  • The Empowering Believers Church of the Apostolic Faith Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program can provide you with the Smoke-Free Holy Ground Covenant to be signed by your organization.
  • Once you have signed the Smoke-Free Holy Ground Covenant declaring your grounds tobacco free, The Empowering Believers Church will provide, at no charge, signage for your grounds indicating it's a Smoke-Free Holy Ground. The Health Department will also provide educational information explaining the new policy, free quit smoking resources, and assistance with planning activities to help make the transition to tobacco-free grounds.
  • Declaring a Smoke-Free Holy Ground sends the appropriate message to your children and adults about the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.
  • Your tobacco-free grounds can provide an incentive for smokers to quit which can save their lives.
  • The Health Department has free materials and resources to help ease the transition, educate your members about tobacco use and secondhand smoke, and help your members who smoke become tobacco-free.

Contact Baron Brown, Outreach Coordinator, 410-761-9272 or

Smoke Free Holy Ground Application



Whereas, The Smoke Free Holy Ground Initiative recognizes that approximately more than 400,000 people die each year from tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke;

Whereas, The Smoke Free Holy Ground Initiative recognizes the importance of being an example to everyone;

Whereas, The Smoke Free Holy Ground Initiative recognizes the importance of educating all individuals and families against the dangers of tobacco use and secondhand smoke for the purpose of protecting our children, families and communities from death and disease caused by tobacco use;

(Organization Name) has established the following policy concerning tobacco use in and around all facilities owned by on (Date).

Scope: The term "smoking" refers to the usage of all forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, dip and snuff.

Expectations: Members are to be responsible for following and maintaining this policy, including reminding members and visitors of this policy, and requesting appropriate disposal of smoking materials. Be it resolved that we will continue to cry out against the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke to protect our children, families, and communities. Be it resolved that as people of faith, we will practice and promote healthy lifestyles within the faith-based community.


  • This ministry will educate individuals and families of all ethnic and racial diversities about the benefits of tobacco-free living.
  • This ministry will be a place to educate and empower towards healthy lifestyles.
  • This ministry will utilize the strength of its faith to overcome health disparities that impact the community.
  • This ministry will establish a system to promote tobacco use prevention and cessation efforts within the faith community.
  • This ministry will not permit any tobacco use on its grounds.
  • This ministry will post an easy visible "Smoke Free Holy Ground" sign to promote community awareness.
Organization Name:
Representatives Name:
Phone Number:
Fax Number:

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