For thousands of years Traditional Tobacco has been a respected plant of many Northwest. tribes. Many of our tribal elders and leaders are committed to the protecting and preserving the value and teachings of traditional tobacco. Tobacco has an important role within our Tribal communities’ way of life. Traditional tobacco was for ceremony, healing, dances, and in the sweat lodge. Many of our Northwest tribes have their own tribal stories of how tobacco served tribal people through prayer – while other tribes grow and harvest the plant today. The tobacco plant is sacred, and is used to this day for spiritual, ceremonial, and medicinal purposes. Unfortunately, we continue to have too many Native people who use commercial tobacco and experience a range of chronic health issues. Smoking is a huge risk factor, and we encourage our tribal clinics to provide smoking cessation to benefit our tribal member and help promote living a longer and healthier life. Through traditional teachings, health promotion and education, tribal leaders across the nation can provide leadership to focus on educating communities on the importance of traditional tobacco and discourage commercial tobacco use, promote campaigns, messaging that focuses on tobacco health education, prevention, policy design, development and implementation around smoke-free tribal campuses and facilities.
The tobacco prevention and control project focus on policy development, tobacco cessation and prevention by using culture as a prevention and education. Building and strengthening tribal capacity, developing culturally responsive/appropriate strategies and program opportunities, and providing education about the effective tobacco control measure. Are area of health promotion that is funded out of the Good health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) program. The GHWIC program is funded by CDC’s investment to improve tribal health.
CDC reports that American Indian/Alaska Natives have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking compared to all other racial/ethnic groups in the United States commercial smoking rates remain higher than 50% while recent studies share that the overall smoking rates have dropped to 14%. Traditional tobacco has a cultural and spiritual importance to tribal people and in the Northwest region (Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) it has been used in our tribal communities or traditional ceremonies or for medicinal purposes. The use of traditional tobacco various from tribe to tribe. The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board supports this work by providing trainings, technical assistance, and meeting facilitation to the NW tribes.
Many of our Northwest tribes have their own tribal stories of how tobacco served tribal people
through prayer – while other tribes grow and harvest the plant today.
Photographs of tobacco (Yehnu) come from the Jeffries family (Yèsah/Occaneechi). This and other varieties have been grown by Yèsah families in the Piedmont region of North Carolina and Virginia since time immemorial. These leaves are traditionally pulled and tied into “handles” where they are cured over woodsmoke from pit fires.
There is a difference between traditional and commercial tobacco use. The tobacco plant is
sacred, and is used by many tribal nations for spiritual, ceremonial and medicinal purposes, whereas commercial tobacco is manufactured by companies for recreational and habitual use in cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, cigars, hookahs, and other products – it is mass-produced and sold for a profit.
Commercial tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable illness and death in the U.S., especially with Native communities. AI/AN death rates, ranks and rates of the leading causes of death compared to with Whites.
American Indian and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) face many health challenges as reflected in their higher rates of risky health behaviors, poorer health status and health conditions, and lower utilization of health services (Benowitz, Blum, Braithwaite & Castro, 2014: Cobb et, 2014, CDC, 2013).
In 2016, the smoking rates among AI?AN adults were the highest of any racial/ethnic group in the United States (CDC, 2016).
Health Effects in Children
In children, secondhand smoke causes the following:
Secondhand smoke can infiltrate into other units through hallways and stairwells. Secondhand smoke can infiltrate into other units through hallways and stairwells.
Health Effects in Adults
In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause: