Atleo: respect First Nations jurisdiction on tobacco

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:41

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is calling for governments to respect First Nations’ jurisdiction over tobacco sales and distribution in their communities.
“First Nations leaders and governments are legitimately asserting their authority and jurisdiction regarding tobacco sales and distribution in their communities based on their authority over health, commercial activity and economics and trade,” Atleo said. “Furthermore, it is obvious that there is no consensus regarding the jurisdiction issue since the tobacco products seized come from federally licensed First Nation tobacco manufacturers and, generally, provincial jurisdiction on reserve is limited according to Canada’s own constitutional law.”
While the consumption, sales and regulation of tobacco in First Nations communities is not a new issue, recent events in Alberta and Ontario indicate that jurisdictional disputes regarding tobacco may be an emerging priority. The AFN stated in a press release that policing authorities in Alberta and Ontario have recently seized tobacco in those jurisdictions.
“Federal, provincial and First Nations governments need to reconcile their interests and authorities through intergovernmental dialogue and agreements, and the AFN is willing to assist in this matter in any way that is helpful,” Atleo said. “First Nations are in the best position to locally address and regulate health and safety concerns regarding tobacco, particularly since it is a sacred substance. The bottom line is that First Nations’ jurisdiction must be respected.”