Milton Parks - Indianapolis, Marion County

Milton Parks remembers moving from Connecticut to Indiana when he was a kid. In Connecticut cigarettes were 75 cents a pack, but they were just 35 cents in Indiana. “It wasn’t that hard to come up with 35 cents. They were right there on the check-out lines with the candy bars.”

He started smoking when he was 16. Now Milton has just 20% lung capacity and struggles to even walk. He recently lost his job of 27 years as a church custodian due to his illness. “Everything I do leaves me out of breath, and I sometimes find myself gasping for breath for five minutes trying to slow my breathing down. It’s like my heart is doing well, but my lungs are struggling to keep my heart supplied with oxygen.”

Miseducation and misinformation fed Milton’s addiction. Being in active jobs, he thought that by using his lungs and breathing clean air, he would be spared the effects of smoking. He sees the same problems continuing to trap adults and youth, alike.

“They tell you all your smoking life that cigarettes are going to kill you, but they don’t tell you how miserable they’ll make you before. I wish I could reach every young person out there considering it. I would tell them they are going to get the ill effects sooner or later.”

His message to lawmakers is to have courage and resolve.

“Pursue it with every bit of strength and power [you] have to help correct it, to curb it. I’d like to see cigarettes and e-cigarettes stamped out completely.”

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