Navajo Nation bans indoor smoking throughout reservation

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Representatives sign the The “Niłch’ Éí Bee Ííná – Air is Life Act of 2021” into law on Saturday, November 6, 2021. (Courtesy of Navajo Nation Office of the
President and Vice President)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (ABC4) – Navajo Nation has signed an act banning all indoor smoking throughout the reservation on Saturday.

The “Niłch’ Éí Bee Ííná – Air is Life Act of 2021” prohibits the use of tobacco products in enclosed, indoor workplaces or public places, and within 25 feet of any indoor area. The act defines commercial tobacco products as conventional cigarettes, pipes, cigars, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco products.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer signed the act into law.

“The Air is Life Act is a monumental achievement and bold step in the right direction to promote healthy living among our Navajo people,” said President Jonathan Nez, who also thanked the 24th Navajo Nation Council for their support of the legislation. “Secondhand smoke can cause health issues among nonsmokers, such as children and elders. Public health professionals have concluded that the only way to protect nonsmokers and vulnerable populations from secondhand smoke is to require smoke-free workplaces and public places. It is a fundamental right to protect our Navajo people’s right to breathe clean air.”

The law does not ban tobacco use in private residences unless it is being professionally operated as a child or adult daycare, healthcare facility, or home office. Tobacco use is also still permitted for ceremonial or cultural purposes within the Navajo Nation.

The Air is Life Coalition has been at the forefront of educating the public on the dangers of smoking for over 13 years and was proud to collaborate with Navajo Nation officials to pass this smoke-free bill.

“The health of our people is important to our future as the largest Sovereign Nation in the country,” said Speaker Seth Damon (Bááhaalí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tséyatoh). “Our health studies show through the data that you live a shorter life with every cigarette you light or secondhand smoke you inhale. This resolution ensures we end it in our public places and tribal office buildings for the safety of all. The Navajo Nation Council commends Chairman Daniel Tso for his leadership as a sponsor of this bill and we commend President Jonathan Nez for working alongside us to make history today.”

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