After 13 years of advocacy by Air is Life and Team Navajo health coalitions, Navajo Nation Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá – Air is Life Act was signed into law on November 6, 2021! Navajo Nation Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá – Air is Life Act prohibits the use of all commercial tobacco products in workplaces and public places in the Navajo Nation. This historic health policy promotes Navajo fundamental traditional views on health and wellness as it protects Diné, especially the elders, children, and the unborn, from the dangers of commercial tobacco products.
The cultural, spiritual, and ceremonial use of Dził Nát’oh (Natural Mountain Smoke) is an integral part of Diné life. Diné cultural teachings about Dził Nát’oh and its use are important to the health, wellness, and welfare of the Diné. The ceremonial use of Dził Nát’oh is not restricted within the Navajo Nation Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá -Air is Life Act.
On February 5th, 2022 Navajo Nation Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá – Air is Life Act will be implemented across the Navajo Nation, and it is based on education and Diné core values of respect and clanship.
What is included as a commercial tobacco product in the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá- Air is Life Act?
Hookah, Water Pipes
Bidis, & Kreteks
Where is indoor commercial tobacco use prohibited in the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá- Air is Life Act?
Hotels and Motels
Assisted Living Facilities
Workplaces located within the territorial jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation
Schools (preschool to post-secondary)
Public Transportation Vehicles
Casinos and Bingo Halls
Elderly Group Homes
Common areas of multi-unit housing, including apartment complexes and multi-family housing.
Vehicles used for Work
Public places enclosed by 50% or more walls/barriers
Where is outdoor commercial tobacco use prohibited in the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá-Air is Life Act?
Public Cultural Gathering Places or Events such as Pow Wows
Navajo Nation Parks and Cemeteries
Outdoor Sports Facilities such as stadiums, arenas, rodeo arenas, golf courses, amusement parks, swimming pools, roller, and ice rinks
A distance of 25 feet from any indoor area where commercial tobacco products are prohibited
Where is commercial tobacco use allowed in the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá-Air is Life Act?
Private residences, unless used for commercial uses such as child care, or health care facilities
When used in bona fide traditional ceremonial purposes for ceremonial use and/or cultural settings and purposes in the Navajo Nation. Navajo Nation recognizes the fundamental use of Dził Nát’oh/ Natural Mountain Smoke as an integral part of Diné life.
As an employer with a workplace located within the territorial jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation, how do I comply with the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá- Air is Life Act?
By February 5th, 2022, adopt, implement, make known and maintain a written commercial tobacco-free policy in accordance with this Act (see template below)
Communicate the policy to all employees
Post “no commercial tobacco use” signs (see below). Hang in plain view at all major entrances to your business and at the entrance to all restrooms.
Remove all ashtrays and other commercial tobacco use receptacles.
Ask individuals using commercial tobacco on the premises to stop, and to step outside.
Commercial tobacco use outside of the establishment is not allowed within 25 feet of any entrance/exit, windows, or air intake system.
What are the penalties for the violation of the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá- Air is Life Act?
The goal of the implementation process for this Act is to gain compliance with the law through education, respect, and Diné clanship. The Navajo Department of Health and Navajo Division of Public Safety has the authority to issue citations for violation of this Act. A business that violates the Act shall be contacted by the Navajo Department of Health. Subsequent violations could result in site visits, warning letters, administrative penalties, and license suspensions.
How will the Niłch’í Éí Bee ĺíńá- Air is Life Act be enforced?
The owner, manager, or operator of an area open to the public covered by the Air is Life Act must make a reasonable effort to prevent commercial tobacco use. Reported violations will be handled by the Navajo Department of Health and the Navajo Division of Public Safety.
What should I do if a customer is using commercial tobacco?
Most commercial tobacco users want to follow the rules and want to know when smoking commercial tobacco is allowed or prohibited. You can communicate the law to customers who may not know about the new ordinance using gentle, positive, and clear messages.
Here are a few suggestions on ways you can handle this situation:
“A Navajo Nation law no longer allows commercial tobacco use indoors. I’m sorry, but you will have to step outside to use commercial tobacco.”
“The new commercial tobacco-free policy prohibits smoking commercial cigarettes here. Thank you for your cooperation.”
“We are under a commercial tobacco-free policy that prohibits smoking commercial tobacco indoors. I need to ask you to put out your cigarette (or refrain from using your e-cigarette).”
Remember: Speak respectfully. Direct the commercial tobacco user to the nearest place where he or she can use the product. If the commercial tobacco users refuse to comply, let the manager on duty or security personnel handle it. If necessary, use your normal protocol for removing a disruptive customer from your premises.