Initiative 185 is a personal issue

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Although I am typically a fairly non-political individual, I feel very strongly that is it time to speak out in support of Initiative 185. For me and for many others in Montana, tobacco and tobacco-related products have taken a staggering toll on the ones we love. I recently lost my husband of 45 years to lung cancer directly related to a lifetime of tobacco use. Like many in his generation, Don started smoking as a teenager and struggled throughout his adult years to quit.

Big Tobacco companies have lied to the American public for decades, and are currently trying to buy the vote to defeat I-185 by devoting millions and millions of dollars to spread inaccurate information to once again fool Montana voters. In the past, Big Tobacco insisted their product was safe even though they knew that was not true. Young people were targeted by marketing campaigns and became addicted at an early age. Young people are once again being targeted! Every year, 400 kids in Montana become daily smokers, and in 2016 Big Tobacco spent well over $30 million marketing to Montana kids. Vaping products include flavors such as mango and fruit punch — specifically for the purpose of attracting young people.

Enough is enough! How long are we going to believe the lies generated by this industry? How long are we going to allow our children to suffer the health issues that past generations have suffered? Initiative 185 will encourage current smokers to consider quitting; it will discourage teens from trying the products and it will go a long way in helping to create a healthier Montana by funding healthcare for nearly 100,000 Montanans who would not otherwise have the resources to seek needed medical care.

Please, please join with me in voting YES on Initiative 185!

— Leah Emerson, RN, Ronan

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