Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Vice President Rex Lee Jim declared Tuesday, May 31, 2011 as “Navajo Nation Commercial Tobacco-Free Day” in recognition of the World Health Organization’s “World No Tobacco Day.” The Shelly-Jim Administration’s proclamation does not restrict the traditional ceremonial use of tobacco.
“We challenge everyone to quit smoking or stop using any form of commercial tobacco on the Navajo Nation,” said President Shelly. “Vice President Jim and I are committed to protecting the well-being of our Navajo people from commercial tobacco and harmful second hand smoke.”
Shelly will lead a rally in Window Rock, Arizona on May 31 to help educate and encourage tobacco users to quit smoking or chewing commercial tobacco products.
Several Navajo Division of Health and tobacco-free educational information booths, including the Health Education Program, the Department of Behavioral Health Services and the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project, will be on-site to speak to the general public about prevention of tobacco or controlled substance use.
On April 26, 2011, Shelly signed an executive order to restrict the smoking of commercial tobacco in the workplace and public places located on the Navajo Nation. The order is similar to the 2008 Commercial Tobacco Free Act, which passed the 21st Navajo Nation Council before it was vetoed by former President Joe Shirley, Jr.
“I am currently working on drafting smoke free legislation and will present it to the Navajo Nation Council,” said Shelly on May 10, when he received the 2011 National Smokefree Gaming Award from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation at the National Smokefree Gaming Symposium, reported Tobacco.org. “We have many hurdles to go through and my job is to take care of the health of our people.”
The “Navajo Nation Commercial Tobacco-Free” rally will take place Tuesday, May 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the parking lot of the Navajo Nation Department of Transportation at the corner of West Highway 264 and Route 12 in Window Rock, Arizona. “Garbage bins will be on-site to trash commercial tobacco products,” states the Navajo Nation press release.