Due to high rates of commercial tobacco use and smoking-related diseases among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people, it’s critical for the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) to identify and use culturally-appropriate messages in its smoking prevention and cessation efforts. At the same time, it’s also important to acknowledge the traditional role tobacco plays in AI/AN culture. For this reason, AICAF has partnered with the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) for the Tobacco Messaging project. This study focuses on the impacts of traditional tobacco messaging, and aims to encourage smoking cessation for Native adults and prevention for Native youth. Results from this study showed that AI/AN people resonated more with culturally-appropriate messages like “keep tobacco sacred,” rather than generic tobacco communication or messages about health consequences like “live tobacco free.”
Cultural cues in smoking prevention and cessation messages can positively affect perceptions and beliefs about traditional and commercial tobacco. This study has important implications for those creating and designing tobacco messages that may encourage AI/AN people to quit smoking, or prevent youth from starting.