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American Indian

American Indain Quit Line

American Indian Tobacco Prevention Programs:

Addressing the needs of American Indian Tribal Members on and off Montana's Reservations in regards to Commercial Tobacco Addiction.

"The diseases caused by tobacco addiction remain the leading causes of death in the United States and in Montana ... Tobacco use impacts every system of the body causing many diseases such as heart disease, COPD and several types of cancer. Tobacco also complicates serious health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, mental illness and substance abuse." - Richard H. Opper, Former Director, Department of Public Health and Human Services (MTUPP Progress Report, July 2014-June 2016).

Commercial tobacco use hits every area of Native communities. Along with following the goals of MTUPP and CDC Best Practices, the American Indian Tobacco Prevention Specialists also educate local community members and youth on the traditional intent and use of the tobacco plant, incorporate cultural activities, integrate native games, and educate on traditional knowledge. These activities help to break the bonds with commercial tobacco companies and pave the way to a life free from nicotine dependence.

To learn more about these topics, select the button to the left.

Click here for facts and statistics on American Indain adult and youth tobacco use rates

American Indian Statistics

According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, commercial tobacco use is continuing to decrease among American Indian youth (grades 9-12). This is largely due to the decrease in cigarette smoking.  The current smoking prevalence for this population has been cut in half since 2011 (41% to 19% in 2017). Find other youth and adult national and state facts and information on tobacco use rates.

Click here to go to MTUPP online store for free American Indian materials

American Indian Specific Resources

Cessation and Recovery from Commercial Tobacco Addiction and other free materials provide tribal perspective to the burden of commercial tobacco in Native communities. Order online under QuitLine materials. Other American Indian tobacco prevention media files are listed below:

American Indian Quit Line

American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line

The Montana Tobacco Quit Line now offers a dedicated line connecting to Native coaches. A recent caller and long time 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 smoke free.

Clean Air Policies

Clean Air Policies

American Indian Tobacco Prevention Programs offer assistance with developing smokefree policies for local businesses, events, colleges, K-12 schools, and multi-unit housing.

Is tobacco tax-free on Reservations?

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 amount 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.

What is the relationship of tobacco to American Indian Tribes?

Many American Indian tribal nations and Indian people use tobacco for ceremonial purposes. 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 general public.

"A basic understanding from which we can start our dialogue is that tobacco can both give life and take life. It is a very powerful, potent, and magical being whose physical properties can cause great harm when abused. The flip side is that tobacco can also provide great healing when not abused. Of all the contributions American Indians have given the world, tobacco is probably the best known. However, when most people think of tobacco today, they don’t consider the depths of its story, or the unique role this powerful plant has had throughout history. Depending on intent of use, a great many American Indian people have become habituated to the nicotine contained in this plant. This should be of great concern to us all, because we are connected to each other; what affects one, affects us all."
(Tharon P. Weigell Sr. (Chumash))

Huran Indian myth has it that in ancient times, when the land was barren and the people were starving, the Great Spirit sent forth a woman to save humanity. As she travelled over the world, everywhere her right hand touched the soil, there grew potatoes. And everywhere her left hand touched the soil, there grew corn. And when the world was rich and fertile, she sat down and rested. When she arose, there grew tobacco...

What can you do to help?

  • Teach American Indian children about how commercial tobacco manufacturers exploit American Indian tradition and images.
  • 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.
  • Help American Indian youth participate in youth activities, such as the traditional Gathering of Native Americans (GONA), where they will learn about the danger of using 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 or uses smokeless tobacco, call the Montana Tobacco Quit Line at (800) QUIT-NOW for free help or visit www.QuitNowMontana.com. Or call the dedicated American Indian Commercial Tobacco Quit Line (855) 372-0037 or visit MTAmericanIndianQuitLine.com.
  • Contact your local tribal commercial tobacco use prevention specialist for more information.

Contact Us

The terms Native American and American Indian are used interchangeably.  We use the term American Indian because it is consistent with the 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 is to be identified as members of their specific tribe.