Montana Voices: Vote for I-185 and save lives

I got 20 more years (and counting) with my father because of a tobacco tax increase. Let me back up …

My father, a Vietnam vet, started smoking in the late 1960s. He smoked all through college, all through Vietnam, and throughout my years at home as a child.

In 1996, Oregon passed Measure 44 – a tobacco tax increase that tipped him over the edge and he quit cold turkey. It wasn’t easy, but he did it and I am thankful every day that he made that choice.

Fast forward to today — my father is now dying from tobacco-related lung disease. The damage he did over the 30 years he did smoke have caught up to him and my family will lose him in the next 3 to 5 years. Imagine if he hadn’t quit in 1996? I suspect his disease would have advanced far quicker and we would have lost him years ago.

I-185 is personal to me. I know it saves lives. I will lose my father to tobacco, but my hope is that my children will resist the targeted campaigns to lure them into tobacco use.

Make no mistake: The opponents of I-185 are funded nearly entirely by two of the world’s largest tobacco companies and they aren’t saying a word about tobacco in their ads. Their motivation is protecting profits and securing new lifelong customers. Instead, we can reject this and vote YES on I-185. Save lives.