FARMINGTON — Members of Crownpoint Chapter have approved a clean air resolution to prohibit smoking in public places within the chapter.
The use of commercial tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, and chewing tobacco will not be allowed in public places and places of employment and "No Smoking" signage must be posted within the chapter, the resolution states.
Crownpoint Chapter is the first chapter to pass this type of legislation, according to a press release from the Oso Vista Ranch Project, a non-profit group that promotes healthy lifestyles, including tobacco free initiatives.
According to the chapter resolution, all buildings and vehicles owned, leased and operated by the chapter as well as outdoor property adjacent to the chapter buildings and under the control of the chapter shall be tobacco free.
It also prohibits smoking in all places of employment, auditoriums, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, private offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, stairs and restrooms.
The resolution excludes the traditional use of tobacco for spiritual and ceremonial purposes.
It also cites a 2006 U.S. surgeon general's report and a 2014 U.S. surgeon general's 50th anniversary report which state that smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the country.
The 2006 report concluded that secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who are non-smokers.
It goes further to explain that children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory problems and ear infections. It says adults can experience adverse effects on the cardiovascular system after breathing secondhand smoke.
The anniversary report concluded that from 1964 to 2014, more than 20 million Americans died because of smoking, including 2.5 million non-smokers.
"It is in the best interest of the Crownpoint Chapter, community membership to consider seriously an opportunity to invest by whatever means for community health for current and future generations to come," the resolution states.
The resolution was passed on May 20 by a vote of 24 in favor, none opposed and 14 abstaining.
"I'm very glad Crownpoint Chapter is initiating this effort to say no smoking in public," chapter president Rita Capitan said.
Capitan said the chapter membership decided to support the resolution after listening to a presentation this year about the health effects of smoking and chewing tobacco.
From the presentation, Capitan learned that smokers and tobacco users are more likely to be diagnosed with diseases such as lung cancer, mouth cancer, gum infections and heart disease.
Within the community, she said she has noticed an increase in teenage cigarette smoking and the use of tobacco chew by individuals at events like rodeo and basketball games.
"I think our people need to take it seriously," she said.
The next step is to present the resolution to members of the Eastern Navajo Agency Council to see whether other chapters within the agency will pass similar resolutions.
"I hope other chapters will stand behind us and pass resolutions of this sort," she said then added that a reservation wide smoking ban could once again be proposed to the Navajo Nation Council.
In 2011, the council approved a bill to ban smoking in public places on the reservation but exempted the tribe's casinos.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly vetoed the regulation based on concerns that it lacked language needed to emphasize the importance of protecting Navajo infants and children from the dangers of smoke and tobacco usage and it did not clearly explain what constituted "public places" and "reasonable distance."
Shelly later signed an executive order to ban smoking in public places but it was not enforced after a review by the tribe's justice department found that it was legally insufficient.