Native American Anti-Smoking Efforts Focus on Shift to Traditional Tobacco

In case you missed it, the Star Tribune recently ran a story on the high rate of smoking addiction among Native Americans and efforts to reduce it by returning to traditional ways, such as using traditional Indian tobacco, made from the shavings of the inner bark of the red osier dogwood.

The story was headlined:American Indians in Minnesota reclaiming traditional tobacco: Minnesota’s 11 sovereign tribes are implementing more rules on commercial tobacco and encouraging the use of traditional tobacco. It read in part:

While smoking rates among the general population have decreased, smoking rates among American Indians remain the highest of any racial group in the United States. In Minnesota, 59 percent of American Indians report smoking, while about 14 percent of the entire adult population smokes. In fact, American Indians across the Northern Plains have the highest smoking rates of American Indians in the country. …

[There is] a growing effort by Lower Sioux community leaders and American Indians across the state to re-establish the use of sacred tobacco, which is intended to be set out in prayer — or smoked but not inhaled — for spiritual and ceremonial purposes. In so doing, they also hope to decrease consumption of commercial tobacco, which is used in cigarettes, cigars and pipes.