Recently, we wrote to you with some startling facts: that tobacco use remains an epidemic in Washington, DC, particularly in the African-American community, and is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke. Our lawmakers in the District of Columbia have taken bold steps over the years to create a smoke-free environment, but we can do more!
We also wrote about how we all have a responsibility to advocate for policies to create a healthy community for all and to limit tobacco’s effects. Advocate, survivor, and valuable member of the You’re the Cure network Gail Mates, lends us her voice to explain why it’s so important to advocate for an increase in the cigarette tax in DC.
Gail spent most of her life watching heart disease strike family members. Both grandfathers died of heart attacks, her father suffered from several and even her mother had an enlarged heart and hypertension that made her susceptible as well.
Her reason for supporting an increase in the District’s cigarette tax is personal: she passionately supports substantial increases in tobacco taxes because it saves lives, while providing urgent funding needed for smoking cessation programs. It also raises public awareness of how tobacco causes needless deaths. Her mother and mother in law died of lung cancer from cigarette smoking - within 6 months of each other.
It's also about the facts. She shares, “Smoking is the most preventable risk factor for heart disease, and lung cancer. We must increase taxes on cigarettes and related products, that will fund much needed quit lines, and education to prevent smoking from ever occurring.”
By supporting policies that make tobacco consumption more expensive by voting to increase the cigarette tax, we can take one large step toward decreasing the likelihood that more people experience tragic circumstances like Gail’s family.
Over 27% of Ward 7 and 8 residents smoke, as do more than 12% of District kids. 800 DC residents die each year due to tobacco-related illness. Join us to advocate for an increase in the cigarette tax – because we believe that everyone should be given equal access to a healthy lifestyle.
How do advocates make a difference to a campaign like this? Among other things, with their passion – and by taking action. Says Gail, “Until my last breath I will work tirelessly and endlessly to be sure that tobacco never takes another life.”
Will you, like Gail, advocate for the tobacco tax? Taking one moment to complete the action will go a long way.
Next time, we will introduce you to Deb Wells. Deb, just like Gail, has made a real difference within our You’re the Cure network as she supports tobacco cessation and heart health in her communities.
To learn more about the campaign, please take action to support raising the cigarette tax in the District and help people quit!