Skip to site content

Indian Health Service The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Share This Page:
INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE
PRESS RELEASE
06/09/2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: (301) 443-3593, newsroom@ihs.gov

IHS Director recognizes Navajo Nation President Shelly for public health leadership

IHS Director recognizes Navajo Nation President Shelly for public health leadership

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly is the recipient of an Indian Health Service (IHS) Director’s Special Recognition Award for Public Health Leadership for his significant work toward the goal of eliminating the use of commercial tobacco products in public places on the Navajo Reservation. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, director of the IHS, announced the award at a listening session with the Navajo Nation yesterday in Window Rock, Ariz.

“We are very proud of President Shelly’s leadership and vision on this important public health issue,” said Dr. Roubideaux. “Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among American Indians and Alaska Natives, making smoking cessation a critical public health goal.”

A Surgeon General’s report in 2010 called cigarette smoking "the leading preventable cause of disease and deaths in the United States."

On April 26, 2011, Shelly signed an executive order that would ban the use of commercial tobacco products in public places on the Navajo Reservation. The order now is to be considered by the Navajo Nation Council. Shelly also has worked closely with TEAM Navajo, a coalition of health advocates and organizations dedicated to strong tobacco-free policies and to protecting the health of the people of the Navajo Nation. The proposed ban would not affect the use of tobacco in traditional ceremonies.

The Navajo Nation Reservation, the largest reservation in the United States, extends into the states of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, covering about 27,000 square miles. It has a population of over 250,000.

The IHS Director’s Awards Ceremony is scheduled for June 29, 2011, in Washington, D.C.