Berkeley, CA (February 6, 2023) – Today marks the second anniversary since the Navajo Nation’s Niłch’í éí bee iiná-Air is Life Act of 2021 legislation went into effect, a milestone celebrated by Tribal leaders and public health advocates alike. This legislation has been instrumental in safeguarding the health and well-being of the Navajo people by addressing air quality challenges and paving the way for a cleaner, healthier future, while respecting the use of ceremonial tobacco.
“We celebrate the two-year anniversary with gratitude for the strides made in protecting the health of the Navajo Nation and its youth from secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Patricia Nez Henderson from Black Hills Center for American Indian Health and leader of the Air is Life Coalition. “As we mark this two-year milestone, we recommit ourselves to building a future where clean air is not just a necessity but a fundamental human right.”
“Tribal leaders have a strong history of using their sovereign authority to pass smokefree casino laws. The Air is Life legislation stands out as a beacon of bold leadership in protecting public health and promoting smokefree environments in all public spaces,” said Clinton Isham, Tribal Relations Consultant for Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “The second anniversary of the Air is Life Act is a testament to the Navajo Nation’s unwavering commitment to creating healthier environments for all. With more than 150 Tribal casinos operating smokefree indoors, they have set record-high revenue for consecutive years, proving that ending indoor smoking is good for business.”
With more than 150 Tribal casino properties operating smokefree, Tribal gaming set a revenue record in 2022 for the second consecutive year, according to a report by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). The report shows that Tribal casinos generated a record-setting $40.9 billion and offers an example of casinos thriving while operating smokefree for only three years.
The Niłch’í éí bee iiná-Air is Life Act of 2021, championed by Navajo Nation officials and supported by local advocates, Navajo traditional healers, and public health organizations, prohibits commercial tobacco usage in public spaces and work places, including Navajo casinos, ensuring a healthier environment for all of the Navajo Nation.