Commercial tobacco companies have tied their products to sacred tobacco traditions for over 200 years. They hijacked our culture by using Native images and symbols (such as patterns, feathers, and headdresses) in their advertising and packaging. For decades, this type of advertising has helped tobacco companies recruit new smokers and keep Native people addicted.
Commercial tobacco companies take advantage of tribal people because they know:
- Nearly half of American Indian adults in South Dakota smoke cigarettes
- Regular exposure to others smoking or using commercial tobacco products makes it harder to quit
- American Indians metabolize nicotine faster than other ethnic groups which leads to a higher level of dependence.
- American Indian youth start using tobacco products at an earlier age than other populations
- They don’t pay state cigarette taxes when their products are sold on reservations
- State-enforced smoke-free laws don’t apply on reservations
It’s a trick: just because American Spirit use phrases like “natural” and “organic” doesn’t mean their products are less harmful.