Leader of Navajo Nation signs bill for higher tax on junk food

President Ben Shelly signs the Healthy Diné Nation Act into law. Photo by Rick Abasta / Office of the Navajo Nation President

President Ben Shelly signed the Healthy Diné Nation Act into law today, calling it a step in the war against diabetes.

The bill imposes an additional 2 percent tax on sugary foods that are deemed to have little or no nutritional value. Revenues would go into a special fund to promote farming, gardening, wellness and other projects to address diabetes and obesity on the reservation.

“Today, I am signing this legislation into law to continue our commitment to healthy lifestyles for our people," Shelly said in a press release. "Diabetes is an enemy that we will conquer by fighting this war together."

The Dine Community Advocacy Alliance lobbied heavily for the bill. It passed the Navajo Nation Council last week by a 10-4 vote.

“Eating well is what will sustain and empower us for the generations to come," Diane Livingston, a member of the group, said in the press release. "From this day forward, we will move from being a food desert and return to being a food oasis."

The First Nations Development Institute also welcomed the new law. The non-profit said the Navajo Nation was the first in Indian Country to adopt such a dramatic change in health policy.

"It has taken a long time, but we applaud the Diné Community Advocacy Alliance and appreciate its persistence, patience and great effort at getting these passed and signed, in what we believe to be the first special junk-food tax in both the U.S. and Indian Country, which makes it a trailblazing precedent as we attempt to address the root causes of diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease that are particularly rampant on reservations and in other Native American communities," First Nations President Michael E. Roberts said in a press release.

Get the Story:
Largest American Indian reservation approves junk-food tax to fight obesity (The Guardian 11/21)
Navajo Nation Imposes Snack Tax (The Inquisitr 11/21)

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