Navajo Nation Imposes 2% Sin Tax on Junk Food to Curb Obesity

Navajo President Ben Shelly approved the Healthy Dine Nation Act last November, which from this week will also eliminate a 5% sales tax on healthy fare including fresh fruits and vegetables.

Revenues from the sin tax will reportedly be channeled towards community wellness projects like farmer’s markets, vegetable gardens and greenhouses in the 27,000 sq. mi. of Navajo reservation spanning from Arizona and New Mexico to Utah…

With nearly half of the Navajo youth population facing unemployment and 38% of the Navajo reservation at the poverty level, supporters say the act may serve as a prototype for sin taxes to curb obesity in low-income communities across the U.S…

There is already a 5% tax on junk food sold throughout the Navajo Nation…

A majority of residents on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation appear to have voted in favor of overturning a 124-year-old alcohol prohibition. The unofficial count — 1,645 in favor of allowing alcohol on the reservation and 1,494 against it — is too close to call, according to The Associated Press…

Oglala Sioux officials hope to build education, detoxification and treatment centers with tax revenue from alcohol sales. Navajo Nation officials say they are tracking the situation. But they said that lifting the prohibition on alcohol on the Navajo Nation is not an option.

American Indians and Alaska Natives die from alcoholism at a rate 514 percent higher than other Americans, according to Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim’s address to the New Mexico Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting in June 2012.

Although alcohol is illegal on the Navajo Nation, residents in cities and communities such as Shiprock can buy alcohol just a few miles away in so-called border towns like Hogback, Farmington and Gallup…

“I see a lot of people hitchhiking to get (liquor),” said 28-year-old Duane Juan, who lives just south of Shiprock. “They’ll get it. If they legalize, it there will be more trouble here for people that don’t drink.”

One Shiprock resident, Laverne, who did not want to use her last name, said that she sees drinkers gathering on street corners and young women getting into different cars every day. She speculates that some people even resort to prostitution to fuel their alcohol habit.

“If they can’t get liquor then they drink mouthwash, hand sanitizer — whatever will get them high,” she said…

3 thoughts on “Navajo Nation Imposes 2% Sin Tax on Junk Food to Curb Obesity

  1. Wow. That would never fly nationally, but I understand the Native American concern. So many kids and adults that live on reservations (and off) are obese, have diabetes and other serious health problems. It’s sad that there aren’t even enough clinics available for Native Americans to be seen regularly by medical professionals! Deplorable!

    Liked by 1 person

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