Hau Mitakuyapi Carl Petersen Emaciapi Yelo (Hello everyone they call me Carl Petersen),
I’m asthmatic; I remember eating at the Diamond A when I was a kid. That memory goes like this: walking into to a cloud of smoke coughing out half my guts before I got to the booth where my family would sit, and trying to breathe as little as possible while I ate my chicken strips.
To try and help save future generations of asthmatic kids from that fate in 2010, when in seventh grade, I joined the Canli Coalition of CRST. That was nine years ago.
Four years ago, Ordinance 77, the CRST Smoke-Free Clean Air Act of 2015 became law, making it illegal to smoke in public places within the boundaries of the reservation. Now in 2019, those members of CRST, who prefer Big-Tobacco companies have no place on our reservation, are met with a new challenge.
I recently found out that JUUL, the largest vaping company in the U.S., is trying to make a deal with CRST to promote JUUL to the people of Cheyenne River.
I am vehemently opposed to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe working with JUUL, even if as a way to encourage tobacco users to quit their habits or under any circumstances. I feel this way because although JUUL claims to want to help people quit — and even if that is truly their intent — all our people would be doing is trading one addiction for another.
JUUL a 38-billion-dollar, for-profit company owned by Altria, the same company that also owns Marlboro. I will remind you Marlboro is a brand that has sent many of our venerable elders to an early grave via lung cancer and other ailments.
I don’t see how that company would have an incentive to help people quit. Why should our tribe help a company that has always used Native people as living piggy banks, not caring about our health, or anything other than profit?
In addition to all that, no hard evidence exists to suggest tobacco users who switch to JUULing will help them quit smoking tobacco. It is incredibly likely JUUL will fund the program just long enough to addict CRST members to their product and then disappear, pretending they were never here.
Given all that, I would urge any CRST Tribal Representatives reading this to NOT support the commodification of our people under the guise of relief from Tobacco Addiction. It is a scam.
If anyone else feels this way, please contact your Tribal Council Reps ASAP before they make another decision that could ultimately harm our people just as much if not more than it helps.
Wopila Tanka (Thank you).
CRST member District 4