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 cigarettesSource
  • 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.Source
  • 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.


Tobacco companies use many tactics to target our people including:

  • Promotions at casinos, rodeos, and pow-wows
  • Sponsoring tribal events
  • Offering giveaways, discounts, coupons, and free samples
  • Prominent placement of in-store signs and displays—often at child’s eye level
  • Building alliances with tribal leaders to defeat tobacco control policies
  • Offering free products and money in exchange for tribal dataSource

New Products—Same Tactics

Commercial tobacco companies continue to develop new products to get the next generation (our children and grandchildren) addicted.

Almost all e-cigarettes and vape products contain nicotine. Attractive packaging, sleek devices, and a variety of flavors, distract us from the harmful chemicals they include and make it easy to forget the high levels of addictive nicotine they contain.

Get the facts on vape’s harmful effects and how it keeps us addicted.

How to Fight Back

Don’t buy or use commercial tobacco products of any kind—this includes cigarettes, chew, hookah, e-cigarettes, and vape. Remember:

  • Our elders weren’t able to practice our traditions with sacred tobacco—but we can.
  • Commercial tobacco companies have used our sacred traditions to take advantage of our culture.
  • Nicotine addiction robs our brothers and sisters of their health and money.
  • Commercial tobacco and nicotine make us sick.
  • Tobacco companies illegally target our children and grandchildren with new, highly addictive products.
  • Help your friends and family quit commercial cigarettes, chew, and vape.
  • Share your quit stories, strategies, and stand together against commercial tobacco.

Ready to quit? Get support with QuitLine phone coaching or start your quit journey with a Kickstart Kit!