PRESS RELEASE – NAVAJO HEALTH ADVOCATES MOVING FORWARD WITH SMOKE-FREE INITIATIVE PETITION DRIVE
Teesto, Arizona– “For the past 10 years we have been advocating for our leaders to pass a smoke-free policy that would protect our people from secondhand smoke exposure. We know secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease, cancer, asthma and other diseases. Yet today, hundreds, if not thousands, of our people are exposed daily to air that is toxic. Thus, we have taken this important health concern into our hands and are moving forward with the Navajo Nation Niłch’ éí ííńá áté Smoke-free Initiative Petition drive.” said Hershel Clark, a Navajo tribal member from Teesto Chapter House community and a Masters of Public Health graduate student at the University of Arizona.
Last Friday the Navajo Election Administration gave Air is Life Coalition (formerly known as TEAM Navajo), a group of health advocates and organizations, to begin gathering signatures of Navajo registered voters. They will need 12,640 signatures for their question of whether Navajo Nation should prohibit the use of ignited commercial tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, etc.) in all public places and workplaces within the Navajo Nation to be placed on the 2018 Navajo Nation General Election ballot in November.
According to the Institute of Medicine’s report there is compounding evidence that secondhand smoke increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases. The report underscored that any exposure to secondhand smoke can increase heart attacks among nonsmokers by 20-25%. In 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Commercial Tobacco Use, approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths occur annually among adult non-smokers in the United States as a result of secondhand smoke.
“Smoke-free policy will not only protect our people from exposure to secondhand smoke, but it will also promote health and longevity among our people, said Al Yazzie from Teesto Chapter House community and the primary representative of the Initiative. “I have many relatives who work in an environment where smoking is permitted in the Navajo Nation. I think about their health and I am concerned. Air is Life and every breath is sacred. I want our people to have a long, prosperous and healthy life” said Mr. Yazzie.
A poll conducted late last year indicates that 76% of the Navajo people support a smoke-free policy for all workplaces and public places with no exemption. “There is much support for this important health initiative petition throughout Navajo Nation. Thus, we need your support to sign the petition as well as help us collect signatures” says Mr. Clark. “You can contact us at 928-289-6449 and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AirisLifeNavajo and other social media outlets.”
Why a Petition Drive? For the past 10 years we have been advocating for our Navajo elected leaders to pass a smoke-free policy that would protect the Navajo people from secondhand smoke exposure. Secondhand smoke exposure causes heart disease, cancer, asthma and other diseases. Yet today, hundreds, if not thousands, of our people are exposed daily to air that is toxic. Thus, we have taken this important health concern into our hands and are moving forward with the Navajo Nation Niłch’ éí ííńá áté Smoke-free Initiative Petition drive.
How can you help?
o Sign the petition. If you are registered to vote on the Navajo Nation, call Jackie at 928-289-6449 to find out where you can go to sign the petition. If you are not registered to vote, stop by your local chapter house and register OR call Jackie at 928-289-6449. She and other advocates are voter registrars.
o Become a signature gatherer. Call Jackie at 928-289-6449 to find out how you can become a signature gatherer for our petition. You will need to be a registered Navajo voter. To find out if you are registered call 866-800-4988.
o Tell others about this important cause. Ask family and friends to sign the petition.
o Tell us your story about secondhand smoke exposure at workplace and public places through social media.
Twitter: Use #AirisLife2018 #EveryBreathIsSacred
o Stop by our office to get registered, sign petition and become a signature gatherer. 605 W. Desmond Street, Winslow, AZ 86047
For more information, call Jackie at 928-289-6449