Tobacco Use In The Native American Culture


Making the decision to move towards a commercial-tobacco-free lifestyle can be a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is here to help you leave a tobacco-free legacy for your family and tribe or nation. Our Quit Coaches are specially trained to meet the needs of Native Americans who are ready to begin a commercial tobacco-free way of life.

In addition to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, several tribal nations in Oklahoma provide information to help you become free of commercial tobacco. Click here for more information on tobacco-free tribal programs.


The Native American culture has a long and unique history of tobacco use. For thousands of years, American Indians have used traditional tobacco for ceremonial or medicinal purposes. When used in sacred rituals and offerings, medicinal tobacco can promote spiritual guidance and growth. However, when commercial tobacco enters the picture, it can lead to addiction, disease, and death.

Commercial tobacco is mass-produced for recreational use with added chemicals and boosted levels of nicotine. Many Native Americans turn to commercial tobacco as a substitute in their traditional practices due to the convenience of commercial tobacco

Health IMPACT OF Commercial TOBACCO

Of all racial or ethnic groups in the United States, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest prevalence of cigarette smoking. As a result, health issues such as cardiovascular disease and lung cancer have become leading causes of death, and diabetes prevalence has skyrocketed. All of these conditions are caused or worsened by using commercial tobacco.

Quitting commercial tobacco not only improves your physical health, it reduces mental health risks including stress and anxiety. It can also help you be more present and connected to loved ones — both now and for years to come.

No matter what your reasons are for quitting, the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline can help guide you every step of the way. If you’re thinking about quitting, call 1-800-QUIT NOW to talk to a Quit Coach™ or register online and choose the FREE services that work best for you.