Activists Push For Laws Similar To Smoke-Free Arizona On Native American Land

November 04, 2013

When Arizona voters banned smoking indoors several years ago, the law didn’t cover Native American land. Now, an anti-smoking activist is trying to pass smoking ban that will cover the Navajo Nation.

Dr. Leland Fairbanks is president of Arizonans Concerned About Smoking, which helped push through the Smoke-Free Arizona Act in 2006.

“55 percent of the reservation people, who are part of Arizona, voted for the Smoke-Free Arizona Initiative, but they said it doesn’t apply to them because they’re independent nations,” Fairbanks said. “So unfortunately they’ve already voted; they would like to have what we have in the rest of the state.”

Now, he’s trying to collect about 10,000 signatures to get an initiative on the 2014 Navajo ballot banning indoor smoking.

"Only Navajos who are registered voters can sign. It does include, though, Navajos who are off reservation," Fairbanks said. "If you’re a Navajo registered voter and you’re working down here in Maricopa County or some other county, you can sign that initiative and you can vote."

Fairbanks says the signature drive is set to begin in January.

Updated 11/4/2013 at 11:30 a.m.