Commercial tobacco attack on American Indian and Alaskan native people

Did you know that American Indian and Alaskan native people remain a target for Big Tobacco?

It is important to know there is a difference between traditional tobacco and commercial tobacco. Traditional tobacco use in American Indian culture has been used for medicinal and spiritual practices for years. Traditional tobacco does not contain the same harmful and addictive chemicals that commercial tobacco does.

However, the tobacco industry uses advertisements with culturally significant images, funding pow wows and rodeos. They even cut prices of their products that are sold on tribal lands to make access easier.

Health Equity is important when it comes to protecting everyone. Certain groups of people are targeted more than others. This plays a role in use rates within those groups. American Indian and Alaskan native people are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to smoke cigarettes. Cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and diabetes remain leading causes of death within these communities. The harmful effect of commercial tobacco is a major contributor to these disease rates.

Stress is a common issue when it comes to increased tobacco rates. A common source of stress that American Indians and Alaskan natives face is poverty. The CDC states “they have the highest poverty rates among any ethnic/racial group in the US.” Issues with racism and discrimination are other stressors placed on this group of people. These stressors paired with commercial tobacco use add to the rise in health issues.

There are ways to fight against big tobacco and their harmful commercial tobacco.

The California Rural Indian Health Board has been a part of ‘Keep It Sacred.’ This is a national network of tribal organizations and health programs that work in decreasing commercial tobacco use. While also promoting traditional tobacco and other traditional medicines for healthier living. Local health clinics can provide screenings and cessation treatments. Get involved in your community by joining a workgroup, contact bbonacorso@healthcollaborative.org.

For help with quitting visit Kickitca.org or call (800) 300- 8086