Using tribal sovereignty is key to ending commercial tobacco use in our communities. We have the opportunity to develop tobacco prevention initiatives that communities around the world can adapt. Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians raised the bar high and set the example by using their authority to enact smoke-free housing policies that will eliminate secondhand smoke exposure for vulnerable tenants and visitors in tribal housing, like children and pregnant women.
Jim Belanger at the Red Cliff Community Health Center states, “Our goal with this policy is to create a healthier environment for the seventh generation.”
The policy was passed by the Red Cliff Housing Board on September 21, 2016. The resolution reads as follows, “The Oski-Ombendaam New Hope housing complex shall be designated as smoke-free. Smoking is not permitted in any inside area of the designated housing complex.” Red Cliff Housing Authority (RCHA) defines “smoke” to include inhaling, burning, or carrying of any lighted cigarettes. Furthermore, RCHA defines cigarettes to include cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, any illegal substance that produces smoke, and electronic cigarettes.
On behalf of the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center and the Wisconsin Native American Tobacco Network at Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, thank you Red Cliff and other contributors, for taking a stance in saying commercial tobacco use is no longer acceptable in your tribal community.
Thank you to the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country grant staff, RCHA, Red Cliff Tribal Council and Executive Board, and to the staff at the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center who were involved with this initiative.