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Health | Opinion
Mark Trahant: Some resoluting on Indian tobacco use


"A story in Indian Country Today reported about the Tulalip Tribe’s tobacco cessation effort. “Here at Tulalip and throughout Indian country we face an uphill battle in addressing use of tobacco. Some tobacco companies use Native American images and cultural symbols in their advertising, such as warriors, feathers, and regalia. They also slip in words like ‘natural’ in the brand names to build image, credibility and sales within the Native American community,” Mel Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, told the newspaper.

I also like the innovative program run by the California Rural Indian Health Board– Keep Tobacco Sacred – because it reminds people about the traditional protocol for tobacco (instead of its recreational and commercial uses).

Smoking is a significant health concern for Indian Country. About a third of all American Indian and Alaskan Natives are smokers, according to the National Tribal Tobacco Prevention Network. It represents the highest use rate for commercial tobacco in every age, ethnic and gender category in the U.S. We die in greater numbers because of tobacco use.

And it’s not just the act of smoking itself. Smoking complicates the management of chronic diseases, including diabetes.

But this is a complex problem for tribal leaders because some tribal enterprises depend on the sales or use of tobacco. Smoke shops are a source of reservation capital and jobs and tribal casinos market to smokers in states where other casinos, bars and just about any facility open to the public is smoke-free."

Get the Story:
Some resoluting is in the forecast (Mark Trahant 1/4)

In Case You Missed It:
Writing a check for Indian health (Mark Trahant 12/28)

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