Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly introduced an executive order to ban the commercial use of tobacco in public places throughout the Navajo Nation this past spring. His efforts are being noticed. Shelly will receive a special recognition award for Public Health Leadership on June 29, 2011 at the IHS Director's Award Ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Shelly's commercial tobacco order is under consideration by the Navajo Nation Council. He has also worked closely with TEAM Navajo, a coalition of health advocates and organizations dedicated to tobacco-free policies and to protecting the health of the people of the Navajo Nation. Shelly has also received the 2011 National Smokefree Gaming Award from the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation at the National Smokefree Gaming Symposium from May 9-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, reported Tobacco.org.
Along with Vice President Rex Lee Jim, Shelly also declared May 31, 2011 as “Navajo Nation Commercial Tobacco-Free Day” in recognition of the World Health Organization’s “World No Tobacco Day”—not restricting the traditional ceremonial use of tobacco.
“We are very proud of President Shelly’s leadership and vision on this important public health issue," Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, director of the IHS, said in a statement. "Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives, making smoking cessation a critical public health goal.”