Advancing smoke-free policy adoption on the Navajo nation

Patricia Nez Henderson, April Roeseler, Gregg Moor, Hershel W. Clark, Alfred Yazzie, Priscilla Nez, Chantal Nez, Samantha Sabo, Scott J. Leischow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


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 smokefree policies to scale throughout tribal lands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)i26-i31
JournalTobacco control
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Disparities
  • Priority/special populations
  • Public policy
  • Secondhand smoke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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