ESG Clarity Asia blog Native Cigarettes Boost Smoking Rates on Canadian Reservations

Native Cigarettes Boost Smoking Rates on Canadian Reservations

Native Cigarettes

At the end of a paved road on the Six Nations Reserve near Kahnawake, in Ontario, lies a fenced compound that houses two unmarked tobacco factories. Inside, a worker feeds pungent, raw tobacco into a labyrinthine machine that prepares it for assembly. The resulting product is called Native Cigarettes, and it’s the new lifeblood of the community—and of several other Canadian reserves that have seen their smoking rates surge in recent years thanks to the tax-free, dirt-cheap cigarettes. Go here :

While non-Natives largely decry the cigarettes as contraband and a menace to public health, the factories are widely considered vital to the financial well-being of many Indian communities. They bring jobs, prosperity and new mansions to residents of the reservations, and have skewed national statistics on smoking rates among First Nations people.

Going Back to Roots: Understanding the Cultural Significance of Native Cigarettes

Smoking rates among American Indian adults remain high—nearly double those of the general population. And despite the success of public education campaigns that highlight the harms of smoking, tribal leaders say they’re still struggling to stem high levels of cigarette use.

Tobacco has been central to American Indian culture for centuries, and today it’s found in nearly all ceremonial practices. The practice of smoking tobacco is woven into religious rituals, gift-giving, healing and teachings. However, a recent study suggests that some Native communities are using commercial tobacco in ways that are harmful to their populations. The study, which was published in the Journal of American Medical Association, examined Natives’ misperceptions about Natural American Spirit (NAS) cigarettes—which feature Native imagery and “natural” or ‘additive-free’ text descriptors—and found that 65% of participants believed that NAS was owned by or grown on their tribal lands.

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