Being a mom and now a grandmother, involves much more than day to day mom duties. It means doing everything I can to make Nebraska, my lifelong home, a better place for children. Hopefully I’ve modeled Mahatma Gandhi’s profound advice to “be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Tobacco has gripped our family and broken our hearts in so many ways. I began smoking at 11. After several heart surgeries and too much pain, we watched my grandfather die a painful tobacco related death.
Fortunately, many in my family battled our addiction and won. I quit smoking at a young age using many of the resources now available to help break that addiction. Less people now use tobacco than ever before thanks to successful public health policies passed by American Heart Association.
But too many Nebraskans are still caught in the grips of tobacco addiction. Today 20% of adults and 15% of youth smoke. It is essential that we continue to reduce these rates. There are 2300 people dying from smoking attributable deaths in Nebraska each year.
We know there are successful policies that have kept tobacco out of the hands of children. Increasing the cost of tobacco, banning smoking in the workplace and other other successful policies have worked – but the work isn’t complete.
I will continue to participate in the American Heart Association’s Lobby Day, contact my elected officials about action alerts and talk with public officials about health policy. I do this because I know that nine of 10 people who smoke, started before the age of 18. If we can keep children from smoking, they won’t become an adult smoker.
Working together we can keep children from smoking. We can keep children from exposure to second hand smoke. We can make those changes we wish to see in the world so that all of our children and grandchildren have a better place to live.