Advancing smoke-free policy adoption on the Navajo Nation

ARTICLE: Advancing Smoke-Free Policy Adoption on the Navajo Nation

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ABSTRACT

Background:  Comprehensive smoke-free laws are effective at protecting non-smokers and reducing tobacco use, yet they are not widely adopted by tribal governments.

Methods:  A series of smoke-free policy initiatives on the Navajo Nation, beginning in 2008, were reviewed to identify key issues, successes and setbacks.

Results:  It has been essential that proposed policies acknowledge the Navajo people’s spiritual use of nát’oh, a sacred plant used for gift-giving, medicinal purposes and traditional ceremonies, while simultaneously discouraging a secular use of commercial tobacco.  Concern that smoke-free policies economically harm tribal casinos has been a major barrier to broad implementation of comprehensive smoke-free laws in Navajo Nation.

Conclusions:  It is necessary for tobacco control researchers and advocates to build relationships with tribal leaders and casino management in order to develop the business case that will take comprehensive smoke-free policies to scale throughout tribal lands.

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