Tobacco Free Coalition Changes Name to Respect Native American Ceremonial Use | Local government
The Tobacco-Free Dane County Coalition changes its name to Dane County Alliance Against Commercial Tobacco to recognize the ceremonial use of tobacco by American Indians while focusing on companies that produce and market cigarettes, chewing tobacco and other forms of dependence, carcinogenic product.
For centuries, Native Americans have used tobacco for ceremonial and cultural purposes, said Missy Tracy, municipal relations coordinator for Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison, in a joint statement from the alliance and Public Health Madison and Dane County.
“What has caused significant impacts on the health of our population is the commercialized version of tobacco, in which companies add carcinogenic chemicals and more nicotine to make new generations dependent,” said Tracy.
American Indians are among the heaviest consumers of commercial tobacco, with 20.9% of those 18 and over reporting daily tobacco use, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the highest percentage among all ethnic groups in the United States, compared to 15.5% for whites, 14.9% for blacks, 8.8% for Hispanics and 7.2% for those of Asian origin.
“While the consumption of commercial tobacco among Native Americans may have a high concentration, Native people also clearly understand that traditional and ritual tobacco use is different from the usual abuse developed by addicted smokers,” said Tracy. “For the Aboriginal community, tobacco in its purest form without carcinogens is sacred and part of the culture used for medicinal and spiritual purposes. “