The president of Navajo Nation has confirmed that vaping e-cigarettes and the use combustible tobacco products will be banned in enclosed public locations within the reservation, including at the tribe’s four casinos. Jonathan Nez, president of the largest Native American Reservation in the United States, signed the legislation on Saturday.Jonathan Nez, Credit: Navajo Nation
The permanent enactment yesterday “is a fundamental right to protect our Navajo people’s right to breathe clean air,” Nez said in a statement. Tobacco use in the tribe’s private homes or for ceremonial purposes will still be allowed, as long as they don’t function as childcare centers, adult care centers, or as business offices, ABC News reported.
Tribal lawmakers approved the bill in October that prohibits the use of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes and other commercial products in public buildings and workspaces, including a 25-foot (7.6-meter) buffer outdoors. Comments submitted to the Navajo Nation Council on the measure overwhelmingly supported it. A few cited the potential of lost revenue for the tribal gambling enterprise that unsuccessfully sought to carve out an exemption from the ban.
Smoking had been prohibited at the tribe’s four casinos — three in New Mexico and one east of Flagstaff — under COVID-19 safety measures, but it wasn’t permanent until Nez signed the legislation Saturday. The Tribal Council approved a ban on smoking and chewing tobacco in public places in 2008, but then-President Joe Shirley Jr. vetoed it, partially because he was concerned about gambling revenue. An override effort fell short of the votes it needed.
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