The Montana American Indian Tobacco Education Specialists honor traditional tobacco while addressing the needs of Tribal members in regard to commercial tobacco addiction.

American Indain Quit Line

Shared Vision

“The Tribal MTUPP vision is to honor our sacred tobacco. Our efforts will enhance
the programs, models, and interventions that integrate Tribal culture, language, and
history. We will empower today’s youth, families, and communities with culturally
relevant education, resilience, and hope to sustain the health and wellness of
Indigenous* people for generations to come.”

Home page American Indian logo courtesy of Kira Murillo. 

MTUPP supports ten local Tobacco Education Specialists (TES) around the State, including the eight Tribal Governments (Blackfeet, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Crow Nation, Fort Belknap Tribes, Fort Peck Tribes, Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Montana, Rocky Boy Chippewa Cree, and Northern Cheyenne) and two Urban Indian Centers (All Nations Health Center in Missoula and Helena Indian Alliance). This group of ten individuals continually educates local community members about the harms of commercial tobacco and the benefits of traditional tobacco. 

TES may be seen at the local health departments, presenting to youth in local schools, sharing media through social and conventional platforms, offering resources for cessation opportunities, participating in cultural activities and health fairs, communicating with decision-makers, and protecting health and well-being of Tribal members throughout Montana. Two collective activities sponsored by Tribal Tobacco work are Tobacco Talks and an annual Youth Summit.

Tobacco Talks (TT) was developed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a dream of a Tobacco Education Specialist (TES) to reach the now more digital-based audience at home. Many reservations "shut down," so the TES had to find new ways to share commercial tobacco awareness and education. In our work, it's essential to reach many different populations with this education, information and other issues related to commercial tobacco. As Native people, we love to come together and discuss various life topics, so we use this to "visit" each other and discuss important issues related to health and our everyday lives. Our Native TES will always lead and facilitate the discussions collectively monthly. TT will always be live on Facebook through the MITES page every third Thursday of the month at 10:30 am so please join us!

Tobacco Warrior Summit is a gathering of youth ages 13-17. The summit is in June and hosted by a TES in a different reservation location each year. These summits provide 3 days of cultural teachings by local elders, commercial tobacco education, leadership skills, native games, plant identification walks, poster contests, and a place to learn new things and meet new people. The Tobacco Warrior Summit is collectively funded by the Montana American Indian Tobacco Education programs.

Not all Tribes may use tobacco in the same way, but in general it is used for ceremony, prayers, and healing.  Some Tribal nations may be more open to how they use tobacco for ceremonial purposes and other Tribal nations may have cultural protocols regarding tobacco use that aren’t shared with the public.

Montana’s Plains Indians follow a simple theory of living within Nature, believing that all things are living and with spirit. It is the relationships made with each spirit that matters. These living entities and relationships all exist within the medicine wheel circle of life. There are many Tribal creation stories regarding the sacred tobacco plant, with variations depending on tribal culture. Sacred tobacco was placed on earth by the Creator/Higher Power for prayer and medicine. Sacred tobacco could take your prayer intent directly to the Creator/Higher Power and in this way, fulfills its purpose. Commercial tobacco companies have used the tobacco plant for other motives and combined with an individual’s habitual use, without the intent of prayer, there is a change in spirit energy which can lead to addiction and death. Excerpts from: Eduardo DuranCessation & Recovery from Commercial Tobacco Addiction, An American Indian and Tribal Perspective.

“We have to understand the intent we place on tobacco. Are we using it in a respectful or an abusive way?  Our communities are starting to understand the negative effects that commercial tobacco has on our people, and we are making steps to show them the right way. Living in a good way means we respect the reciprocal relationship we have with tobacco.” — Dana Kingfisher, Blackfeet/White Clay, Tobacco Program Coordinator at All Nations Health Center.

Knowing the difference between traditional tobacco and commercial tobacco can help break the cycle of nicotine dependence and addiction.

 To order Cessation and Recovery and other American Indian informational brochures, please visit MTUPP's Online Store.

The diseases caused by tobacco addiction remain the leading causes of death in the United States and for Montana American Indians. Tobacco use leads to cardiovascular disease, several types of cancer, and complicates serious health conditions such as diabetesasthmamental illness and substance abuse.


For more information on tobacco related health effects, please see all MTUPP's Tobacco Fact Sheets.

Montana American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line Logo and Link

The MT American Indian QUITLINE  offers a dedicated line connecting to American Indian coaches who understand. A recent caller and longtime smoker never thought she would be able to quit, but with the help of the American Indian Quit Line, where she found the coaches "pleasant to converse with and very informative", she is now two months smokefree. Read the Montana American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line Success Story or watch the American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line Message and start your quit today. 

Recently added to the American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line is combined coaching for Pregnant and Post Partum Women struggling with nicotine addiction. There are risks involved with smoking during pregnancy. Women may decide that pregnancy is a good time to quit and now may earn up to $320 by participating in coaching calls with the MT American Indian QUITLINE

For a more Tribally specific reading on addiction and cessation, order Cessation & Recovery from Commercial Tobacco Addiction: An American Indian and Tribal Perspective

Smoke free Housing information

Although the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act does not apply to public facilities owned and operated by Tribal governments or Tribal members within their reservation of enrollment, many Montana Tribal Nations have adopted Clean Indoor Air policies. There is no safe level of exposure to the smoke produced by burning commercial tobacco. Secondhand smoke can cause damage and disease in virtually every organ in the body. Clean Indoor Air protects everyone from Secondhand Smoke exposure.

American Indian Tobacco Education Specialists help with developing smokefree policies for local businesses, events, colleges, K-12 schools, and multi-unit housing.

To order smokefree and tobacco-free signage and clings, please visit MTUPP's Online Store.

All Tribes, except the Confederation of Salish Kootenai people, have a “Revenue Sharing Agreement” with the State of Montana, meaning that the price of a pack of cigarettes is the same on and off reservation. Cigarette packs are taxed at $1.70, and tax is 50% Over the Price (OTP) of all other tobacco products.

Revenue Sharing with the Tribes began in the 1990’s. In 2011, Northern Cheyenne was the last Tribe to negotiate the agreement. The Confederation of Salish Kootenai people is unable to go this route due to their own Governing by-laws; instead, there is a Department of Revenue Quota System which minimizes the quantity of tobacco products sold on location.

Revenue Sharing allows store owners to tax all tobacco products and not distinguish between Tribal and non-Tribal sales. The state collects the tax from all products. The state and Tribe have agreed on a formula for sales to members living on their own reservation. The state then reimburses the Tribes for this dollar amount of taxes being collected from Tribal members.

This is done because a state cannot tax a Tribal member who is an enrolled member, living on their reservation. For example, income earned by a Tribal member working and living on their reservation cannot be taxed. However, a Tribal member working and living off their reservation can be taxed. Each Tribe then has jurisdiction over the returned funds collected from members paying tobacco taxes. It is up to the Tribe to use monies according to their own governing practices and policies.

In the case of the Confederation of Salish Kootenai people, the state uses a similar formula to estimate how many cigarettes will be on the reservation. The Confederated Salish Kootenai Government designated six tobacco retailers on the reservation and the Quota of un-taxed cigarettes for each store. Owners of stores are to card for each sale of un-taxed products to their members. Each store has a specific number of cigarettes to sell without taxes throughout the year. All other tobacco retail stores on the Reservation sell tobacco products with the state tax included.

  • Follow the Montana American Indian Commercial Tobacco Prevention page on Facebook. Join the Tribal Tobacco Education Specialists every third Thursday of the month at 10:30 for a Facebook Live discussion about topical issues.
  • Help American Indian youth learn their culture and the role of traditional or sacred tobacco. Integrate Native Games into your daily play. 
  • Teach American Indian children about how commercial tobacco manufacturers exploit American Indian tradition and images.
  • Learn the harms of commercial tobacco, including electronic nicotine devices, on your health.
  • Keep your home commercial tobacco-free.
  • Support smokefree businesses.
  • Encourage your Tribal council to pass a resolution to make your reservation free from commercial tobacco.
  • Encourage high prices for commercial tobacco products. Raising commercial tobacco taxes stop kids from using commercial tobacco and help people who are addicted to quit.
  • If you or a loved one smokes, uses smokeless tobacco, or any other commercial tobacco product call the dedicated American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line (855) AI-QUIT or visit
  • Contact your local Tribal commercial tobacco use education specialist for more information.

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* Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.

The terms Native American and American Indian are used interchangeably.  We use the term American Indian because it is consistent with the Office of Management and Budget Standards, (OMB) race categories.  A 1995 Census Bureau Survey of preferences for racial and ethnic terminology (there is no more recent survey) indicated that 49% of native people preferred being called American Indian, 37% preferred Native American, 3.6% preferred "some other term", and 5% had no preference.  While the issue is not divisive, American Indians generally prefer to be identified as members of their specific Tribe.