October 20, 2021
Window Rock, AZ — The Navajo Nation Council last night approved legislation that will make Navajo Nation casinos and other public spaces and workplaces smokefree, protecting the health of workers and guests alike. The “Nilch’ éí Bee Ííná – Air is Life Act 2021” — passed by a vote of 20-3.
“This is an historic moment for Navajo Nation. Our Navajo legislators have passed a health policy that will not only protect our communities from the dangers of commercial tobacco products and secondhand smoke, but also have decided the future that will save lives,” said Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson, health advocate and Navajo physician. “For far too long, the tobacco industry has interfered with our sovereign decision making for a healthier Navajo Nation and pushed products that have caused addiction all for the sake for profit over people. This is true sovereignty for the Dineh people by saying no to the tobacco industry.”
The Navajo Nation council, during the fall session and after the third failed attempted to exempt gaming, overwhelmingly decided to pass the Nilch’ Éí Bee ĺíńá Air is Life legislation for 100% commercial tobacco free properties and businesses on all of the Navajo Nation.
This legislation has been 13 years in the making with several draft legislations put forward over the years. With support from many Navajo people, Chapterhouse agencies, grassroots organizations, health agencies, and other organizations like Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and Arizonans Concerned About Smoking, the Air is Life Coalition was successful in educating elected leaders and decision makers about the importance this legislation would have on the health of Navajo workers from this day forward.