By: Jacquelyn E. Scott - Fort Wayne, Allen County

I am not a smoker, and never have been, but I come from a family of smokers. I am not sure how I managed to escape that trap. I don’t know if God saved me from it, but from what I have learned about the devastating effects of nicotine, I am extremely grateful.

My father, George Michael Scott, died from heart disease and my mother, Esma Scott, died from breast cancer. I am sure that their smoking habits helped to contribute to their illnesses. When I heard that my mother had cancer, I knew it wasn’t a good thing, but I didn’t know how devastating it was. I was living in Tulsa, and she was in St. Louis. My family wasn’t really telling me what she was going through. If I had known, I would have made different life decisions in terms of moving back. I had to go see her on her death bed before I understood.

I grew up during the time that there were vending machines that allowed anyone of any age to purchase cigarettes. My mother would sometimes send me to the corner store to buy cigarettes for her. I realize that it was not my fault that my mother’s smoking habit contributed to her death; still, the fact remains that I purchased cigarettes for my mother. This is not something that I think about every day, but the thought of it will remain with me for my lifetime.

I want Indiana lawmakers and the Governor to know that cancer is an extremely devastating disease that should be taken seriously when decisions are being made about health-care laws. Making decisions based on the demands of tobacco lobbyists devalues the lives of those suffering from cancer, their families, and future generations. We have to treat it like a serious addiction—the same as with any other drug.

I’m for raising the cigarette tax and raising the age of purchase to 21—whatever we can do to help people quit or to never start. Kids are being enticed more and more by e-cigarettes. The fact that tobacco companies continue to knowingly target young people is borderline evil—to deliberately do that to a person, to someone’s child, is wrong.

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