Tuttle, OK

Tobacco affected my life in the worst way. Not because I was a smoker — I’ve never smoked a day in my life. But because smoking played a huge part in the death of every member of my immediate family. Simply to say, every member died of heart or lung disease, and each of them were heavy smokers. My dad had a major heart attack at 36 and died at 42, after six years of multiple hospital stays and continuation of smoking. I had one sibling, a brother, who had a heart attack resulting in a bypass at age 41. Six weeks later he is smoking again, and suffered two more heart attacks. He died at age 50 with heart and lung failure. My mother had COPD for greater than 20 years and died at 72 after being in the hospital for four months. And that doesn’t include the multiple hospital stays in those 20 years. And yes, as soon as she was out of the hospital, she started smoking again. My only grandfather had a massive heart attack at age 55 and died. My only aunt had a massive heart attack and died at age 49. My oldest daughter suffers from asthma, likely due to secondhand smoke. She is 50 years old and was hospitalized several times as a child and placed in a tent to help her breathe. As a mother, that was tough to see.

So, to say smoking has caused me a lot of grief is an understatement. I hope anyone who reads this will give serious thought to make “Tobacco Stops With Me” their own story.