Keep tobacco sacred

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sacred crater lake

May 28, 2019 press conference

The Klamath Tribes Youth Council Chairwoman Hannah Schroeder and Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris recently announced the launch of the "Keep tobacco sacred" campaign. Their remarks can be found below, and other materials provided to those attending the joint press conference luncheon are located in the "Related documents" list on this page. Also, included is The Klamath Tribes Council resolution on tobacco.

Chairwoman Schroeder

maxwellThe Klamath Tribes Youth Council, in partnership with Klamath Tribal Health & Family Services and Klamath County Public Health, is pleased to announce the launch of our new “Keep Tobacco Sacred” campaign. We as a council recognize that there is an issue with commercial tobacco being easily attainable to both native and non-native youth within the community of Chiloquin. Commercial tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, vape pens, nicotine tabs, and chewing tobacco, are hazardous to our health and can lead to serious health issues such as lung and mouth cancers. In Native communities specifically, commercial tobacco is accepted as a social norm, however, we as a youth council recognize that these tobacco forms are not traditional to our way of life as tribal people, nor do they reflect positively on our tribal values. Commercial tobacco is not scared. Commercial tobacco is hazardous to our health. Misuse of tobacco is not something our ancestors would be proud of. We as a youth council encourage all tribal people to keep it traditional: smoke meat, smoke fish, smoke hides, but do not smoke commercial tobacco.

Commissioner Morris

sacred tobaccoFirst I’d like to acknowledge the work of the Klamath Tribes Youth Council in promoting health and actively working in the prevention realm. Each of these young people are leaders and role models for their peers. They are engaged in a variety of issues and are a constant reminder that youth are our future. I appreciate and honor their work, which reaches beyond the Klamath Tribes, with connection to other Tribal Nations throughout North America.

To be here on sovereign land to talk about the sacred nature of tobacco and the environment within Klamath County in regard to tobacco and alcohol retail sales is both humbling and awe inspiring.

A copy of the recently released Klamath County tobacco and alcohol retail assessment is in everyone’s packet. I would like to draw your attention to the first page. It shows Klamath County outpaces the state average in outdoor advertising for cigarettes, little cigars, tobacco in general, alcoholic beverages, and sugary drinks.

You are all capable of parsing the rest of the report, but think about the messages we are sending to our youth. Each of these items is a drain on public wellness and health. We have instituted tobacco retail licensing in Klamath County to provide annual inspections of retailers, and Chiloquin just adopted a licensing ordinance on May 13. However, the larger youth issue is now vaping and e-cigarettes.

Klamath County School District principals recently indicated that they believe up to 50 percent of high school students are carrying a nicotine delivery system to and from school. I recently heard that a student at a County high school would put that number at 90 percent and the devices are also being used to smoke marijuana. 

Elected officials are busy trying to create policies that make it difficult for youth to get tobacco, e-cigarettes and other unhealthy substances. However, as one of my fellow Commissioners would tell you, where there is a will there is a way. We’ve heard of middle schoolers being offered vaping products on the school bus. That is why having youth lead a charge, such as this, is powerful. 

Also in your packets is the tobacco section of the Klamath County Oregon Healthy Teens Survey 2017. It shows that 1) the majority of students are not smoking or vaping; 2) the majority of students live in a home where no one smokes or vapes; and 3) the majority of students have not seen anyone smoke or vape on campus. However, the majority of students have seen advertisements for smoking and vaping in or outside of a store.

No one wants to see a business person fail. However, our youth expect us to be true to our values when we tell them that tobacco and nicotine are harmful for everyone. It is my sincere hope that other students listen to the Klamath Tribes’ Youth Council and embrace the notion that commercial tobacco has no place in a healthy lifestyle.

Also in your packets, you will find a press release from the Truth Initiative and information from the Surgeon General’s Office regarding youth vaping. I am asking Klamath County Public Health to make youth vaping a priority issue and to bring a proposal to the Board of County Commissioners before school resumes this fall. It is my sincere hope that Public Health will continue its work with Klamath Tribal Health, and that the other Commissioners and I can use this issue to build a strong relationship with the Tribal Council of the Klamath Tribes. We all have a vested interest in our youth and their future.

Why tobacco prevention matters to The Klamath Tribes