November 8, 2021 Casino, Tribal, Legal

Navajo Nation tribe bans indoor smoking at casinos

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Navajo Nation president, Jonathan Nez, praised the ban in a statement.

The United States' largest Native American reservation has announced a ban on indoor smoking at its casino properties.

Initially approved in October, the ban will apply to many of the tribe’s institutions across its 17 million acre territory, including public buildings and workspaces. Specifically, the law prohibits the use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes.

However, the ban will not apply to the use of tobacco for ceremonial purposes or in people’s homes.

Navajo Nation president, Jonathan Nez, has praised the move, calling it a "monumental achievement and bold step in the right direction to promote healthy living among our Navajo people.

“It is a fundamental right to protect our Navajo people’s right to breathe clean air."

This ban comes after a long campaign beginning in 2008 when a ban was vetoed by then-president Joe Shirley Jr. As time passed, Navajo leaders chose to allow smoking to continue, including Shirley's successor, Ben Shelly.   

While this ban covers all Navajo properties, smoking had already been discouraged under Covid-19 safety measures at the tribe’s casinos. However, although smoking was shunned at the tribe's four properties, it was not legally binding.

While a number of voters highlighted worries regarding lost revenue, the bill ultimately received large-scale support.

The debate surrounding smoking in casinos is one that has sparked much discussion in recent years. Recently, the state of Pennsylvania saw the issue arise once again, with the suggestion of a smoking ban being vetoed by the state legislature.

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