Madeline Wilson - Greenwood, Johnson County

Madeline Wilson likes to remember her brother Mark’s last day alive with the image of him laughing and smoking while working on the roof of their father’s cabin near Cataract Lake. He had a massive heart attack that day, as they were saying their goodbyes.

“He tipped his bottle of water up and, I’ll never forget, he just fell over. He had no pulse, so I started CPR. I revived him, and he started moaning. He had a heartbeat. I had him in a rescue breathing position, but his heart stopped again.”

It took 32 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. With her training as a registered nurse and EMT, Madeline knew there was no time to waste.

“I defibrillated him and intubated him, and I continued CPR all the way to the hospital in Putnam County. He didn’t survive. They called the type of heart attack that Mark had a widow-maker.” Mark left behind a wife and four children. He was a heavy smoker and one of many men and women in Madeline’s family to die early from tobacco use. Just like her father and uncle, Mark worked at the U.S. Steel plant in Gary, where Madeline’s whole family was born and raised. Madeline’s father was addicted to chewing tobacco because he couldn’t smoke cigarettes at the plant, but he could chew.

“He quit, but my mom never quit smoking her unfiltered Pall Mall Reds. She, too, died of a massive heart attack.”

Madeline feels that raising the cigarette tax will make it harder for people to start smoking at young ages, like her mother, father, and brother did. She would like to see the money from the tax increase feed back into public health and tobacco cessation.

“Let’s reinvest it back in our people. We have such poor health outcomes. This does not attract folks to raise their children in Indiana or want their grandchildren to be raised here; nor does it attract business to our state.”

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