American Indian Tobacco Prevention Programs:
Addressing the needs of American Indian Tribal Members on and off Montana's Reservations in regards to Commercial Tobacco Addiction.
The diseases caused by tobacco addiction remain the leading causes of death in the United States and for Montana American Indians. Tobacco use leads to cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer, and complicates serious health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, mental illness and substance abuse.
Commercial tobacco use hits every area of Native communities. Along with following the goals of MTUPP and CDC Best Practices, the American Indian Tobacco Prevention Specialists also educate local community members and youth on the traditional intent and use of the tobacco plant, incorporate cultural activities, integrate native games, and educate on traditional knowledge. These activities help to break the bonds with commercial tobacco companies and pave the way to a life free from nicotine dependence.
American Indian Traditional Tobacco
Knowing the difference between traditional tobacco and commercial tobacco and the "intent" of use, can help break the cycle of nicotine dependence and addiction.
American Indian Statistics
Find youth and adult national and state facts and information on tobacco use rates on the MTUPP publication page.
American Indian Specific Resources
Find free materials that provide a tribal perspective to the burden of commercial tobacco in Native communities at the MTUPP On-Line Store under QuitLine materials. Other American Indian tobacco prevention files, websites and media are listed below:
American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line
The Montana Tobacco Quit Line offers a dedicated line connecting to Native coaches. A recent caller and long time smoker never thought she would be able to quit, but with the help of the American Indian Quit Line, where she found the coaches "pleasant to converse with and very informative", she is now two months smoke free. Read another Montana Success Story and start your quit today. Call 1-855-5AI-QUIT or link directly to the Montana American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line at AIQUITLINE.com.
Not all tribes may use tobacco in the same way but in general it is used for ceremony, prayers and healing. Some tribal nations may be more open to how they use tobacco for ceremonial purposes and other tribal nations may have cultural protocols regarding tobacco use that aren’t shared with the general public.
"A basic understanding from which we can start our dialogue is that tobacco can both give life and take life. It is a very powerful, potent, and magical being whose physical properties can cause great harm when abused. The flip side is that tobacco can also provide great healing when not abused. Of all the contributions American Indians have given the world, tobacco is probably the best known. However, when most people think of tobacco today, they don’t consider the depths of its story, or the unique role this powerful plant has had throughout history. Depending on intent of use, a great many American Indian people have become habituated to the nicotine contained in this plant. This should be of great concern to us all, because we are connected to each other; what affects one, affects us all."
(Tharon P. Weigell Sr. (Chumash))
Huran Indian myth has it that in ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she travelled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco...
- Teach American Indian children about how commercial tobacco manufacturers exploit American Indian tradition and images.
- Keep your home commercial tobacco-free.
- Learn the harms of commercial tobacco, including electronic nicotine devices, on your health.
- Support smokefree businesses.
- Encourage your tribal council to pass a resolution to make your reservation free from commercial tobacco.
- Help American Indian youth learn their culture and and the role of traditional or sacred tobacco.
- Encourage high prices for commercial tobacco products. Raising commercial tobacco taxes stop kids from using commercial tobacco and help people who are addicted to quit.
- If you or a loved one smokes or uses smokeless tobacco, call the dedicated American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line (855) 5AI-QUIT or visit MTAmericanIndianQuitLine.com.
- Contact your local tribal commercial tobacco use prevention specialist for more information.
The terms Native American and American Indian are used interchangeably. We use the term American Indian because it is consistent with the OMB race categories. A 1995 Census Bureau Survey of preferences for racial and ethnic terminology (there is no more recent survey) indicated that 49% of native people preferred being called American Indian, 37% preferred Native American, 3.6% preferred "some other term," and 5% had no preference. While the issue is not divisive, American Indians generally prefer to be identified as members of their specific tribe.
Program Goal Areas
Tobacco Control Partners
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Americans for Nonsmokers Rights
Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Center of Disease Control
National Association of County & City Health Officials
National Jewish Medical and Research Center
National Native Network
Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council
Tobacco News and Information
World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control