Tina Hamilton - Lexington, Scott County
Tina grew up in a home where her mom was a heavy smoker. She suffered from asthma and was a “frequent flyer” at the doctor’s office, where she had monthly breathing treatments. Like many people exposed to smoke for years, she continues to experience negative health effects.
“My immune system was very poor as a kid and, even now, I have a lower immune system stemming from nearly 18 years of secondhand smoke exposure.”
An important turning point for Tina was moving out of her mom’s house, but the change was bittersweet. While Tina’s health began to improve, her mother gave birth to a younger sister. “I watched my baby sister go through the same cycle I had, and it was so disheartening.”
She did what she could to alleviate the effects on her younger sister. When her sister was about three, Tina began having her sleep over on the weekends to get her out of the smoky house. Immediately upon arrival, Tina would bathe her sister and give her clean clothes that Tina bought and kept in her smoke-free home.
“My sister’s hair was so sticky with residue from my mom smoking that I would have to wash her hair two or three times just to get it clean. I would also have to soak her clothes just to get the smell out.”
Tina shared her story of exposure to secondhand smoke recently with a politician who said, “There is nothing that I can do for that seven-year-old you.” But as someone who now works professionally to reduce tobacco use, she knows that there are things our lawmakers can do to promote a smoke-free future, including raising the price of cigarettes.
“As a kid, I needed to be protected in some way. Raising the cigarette tax and reducing smoking can be a protection for all the kids who don’t really have a choice.”