ANR Foundation’s Clinton Isham Brings People Together for Worker and Tribal Health

ANR Foundation Tribal Relations Consultant, Clinton Isham, discussed smokefree casino initiatives for the second year in a row at the largest gathering of Tribal leaders and gaming executives in the U.S.—the IGA Tradeshow and Convention 2022. A panel titled, “A Tribute to Michael Meczka: The Non-Smoking Casino,” honored the life and legacy of the late gaming-industry researcher and advocate, Michael Meczka of MMR/C, who passed away in August of last year. 

Mr. Meczka produced groundbreaking research in 2021 that sparked conversations across the gaming industry to address smoking in casinos and enact smokefree policy. Michael Meczka’s influential research suggests a majority of gaming enthusiasts prefer smokefree casinos, and the leading factors influencing casino guests to visit a property are 1) location and 2) it being 100% smokefree. 

Andew Klebanow of C3 Gaming served as the moderator for the “A Tribute to Michael Meczka: The Non-Smoking Casino panel. Mr. Klebanow introduced new data to audience members that complements Michael Meczka’s research that was presented in 2021.

Panelist Missy Tracy, an ANR Foundation Board Member and the Municipal Relations Coordinator for Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison (HCGM), shared the long term financial success HCGM experienced since implementing a 100% smokefree policy in 2015. Missy Tracy also shared evidence that suggests smokefree casinos earn more money due to a preference for strong health, safety, and sanitation standards.

Panelist and Tribal attorney, Chris Siewers, speaking on behalf of the Eastern Band Cherokee Indians (EBCI), discussed the responsibility casinos have to their employees and the potential risk for litigation if casinos revert back to smoking after instituting temporary smokefree policies in the midst of the pandemic. Mr. Siewers also shared the financial success Harrah’s Cherokee Casino experienced upon closing and reopening their doors 100% smokfree in 2020. 

Chris Siewers and his wife, Lavita Hill, who is an EBCI Tribal citizen, were instrumental in helping EBCI pass a smokefree policy on December 9, 2021. All of the existing EBCI gaming sites and 157 other Tribal gaming properties are 100% smokefree. Panelists closed their session by sharing new outlooks toward smokefree gaming and instilling confidence to proponents in the audience.

ANR Foundation hosted a Tribal Partner meeting in conjunction with the IGA events in Anaheim on April 20, 2022. The Tribal Partner meeting was comprised of several IGA panelists and other representatives, including the Navajo Nation’s Air is Life Coalition (Hershel Walker and Sierra Wilcox), BC Slots (Brian Christopher, social media influencer/Gaming YouTuber), Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison (Missy Tracy), and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (Lavita Hill and Chris Siewers). 

The individuals who attended the ANR Foundation Tribal Partner meeting helped influence some of the most important Tribal smokefree policies in recent history, such as the landmark Navajo Nation smokefree policy. Partners shared success stories behind recent campaigns, unique challenges within their communities, and set goals to help each other move additional smokefree policies forward. Tribal partners left the meeting with refreshed energy to the repatriation of traditional tobacco and the end of commercial tobacco use in Indian Country.   

ANR Foundation supports the advancement of Tribal sovereignty and the establishment of Tribal partnerships rooted in respect and understanding. ANR Foundation Tribal Relations consultant, Clinton Isham, helps build and maintain relationships with partners through ongoing advocacy and education efforts, supplying resources like fact sheets and videos, and producing other items that can be found on our Smokefree Casinos website

Clinton Isham is a citizen of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and led a statewide commercial-tobacco prevention and control program for the 11 Tribes in Wisconsin.

Clinton leads a national campaign for commercial-tobacco smokefree Tribal governments and casinos as the ANR/F Tribal Relations Consultant. ANR Foundation is dedicated to protect the public from secondhand smoke, and they display a special emphasis on supporting Tribal initiatives.