Tribes have a sovereign right to determine the health of their own people. To adopt and implement a commercial smoke free policy to protect children and elders from the dangers of commercial secondhand smoke is an exercise of that sovereignty. A policy also helps state the Tribe’s position on commercial tobacco and commercial secondhand smoke exposure. Enacting and implementing a smoke free policy can be a long and tedious process. However, implementing a smoke free policy is a step forward toward healthy Tribal members and a commitment to our future generations.
There are several reasons to adopt a commercial smoke free policy:
- Commercial smoke free policy protect elders and children from the health consequences of commercial secondhand smoke;
- Assists Tribal members who are trying to quit smoking by providing less places to smoke and creating commercial smoke free areas where it will not trigger them to smoke by smelling smoke;
- Saves cost on health care dollars by preventing ear infections, asthma attacks, cardiovascular disease, and cancer due solely to reducing commercial secondhand smoke exposure;
- Ensures traditional tobacco is used for ceremony and medicine;
- Saves cost for Tribal housing by having to rid housing of the smell of smoke and replacing walls and carpet due to smoke stains and tertiary smoke or Third-hand smoke. Third-hand tobacco smoke contamination remains after the cigarette has been extinguished. Third-hand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. Third-hand smoke can’t be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or by confining smoke to only certain areas;
- Protects the environment by reducing cigarette butt litter, reduce deforestation by not needing paper to make cigarettes, and prevent wildfires;
- Protects Tribal employee health by reducing the use of sick leave due to reducing commercial secondhand smoke exposure, thus also increasing productivity and
- Research shows a reduction in cigarette use when commercial smoke free policies are introduced;
Any commercial smoke free policy will have to be approved by the Tribal council for that Tribal community. In the case of a Tribal Health Program, the policy will have to be approved by the health board. Click on Commercial Tobacco Free Policy Guide to learn more about how you can help enact a policy change in your community.