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Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Goes Smoke-Free

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe recently passed the Smoke-free Air Act, making it the first tribe in S.D. to make sure indoor places are smoke-free.
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The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council recently passed the Smoke-free Air Act, making it the first tribe in South Dakota to make sure indoor public places are smoke-free.

The Act also requires that cigarette smoke is 50 feet away from public building entrances and prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor places. Smoking outside, in private homes and vehicles, and in designated rooms at hotels is still permitted.

The effort to pass the Act was led by the Canli (Lakota for “tobacco”) Coalition of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The group of providers, cultural leaders, educators, environmental workers, community elders and youth have been promoting smoke-free air and educating the community about the dangers of commercial tobacco and second-hand smoke since 2009.

“We are so proud of our Tribal Council leaders for taking action to protect their people from second-hand smoke,” coalition organizer Rae O’Leary, a nurse and respiratory therapist, said in a press release. “This is not a 5th amendment issue, it is a public health issue. The Smoke-Free Air Ordinance will save lives now and 7 generations from now.”

South Dakota passed a similar law in November 2010, but because the tribe is a sovereign nation, the state’s law didn’t apply to the nine reservations located there.

According to a release from the tribe, the smoking rate among members is 51 percent, compared to the national average of 19 percent. Even though many smoke, a 2012 survey of 400 tribal members found that the majority of smokers and non-smokers agree that indoor places should be smoke-free. More than 75 percent of respondents believe smoking shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants, work areas, or tribal offices.

“The overwhelming support for smoke-free air from tribal members of all ages and testimonies from youth leaders seemed to make a big impression on council representatives,” CRST Health Committee Chairman Wayne Ducheneaux said in a release. “I believe protecting our people from second-hand smoke in indoor public places will be a much needed, positive change for our tribe.”

Since the Surgeon General’s 1964 report that first said smoking is dangerous, 2.5 million non-smoking adults have died of second-hand smoke exposure. A fully smoke-free environment is the only way to prevent effects of second-hand smoke.

“It has been great to work with CRST Tribal Council members with such visionary leadership to protect people from second-hand smoke,” said Harold Frazier, tribal chairman, said in a release. “The benefits of living on a smoke-free reservation will be both immediate and long-lasting.”