Tobacco products have had a devastating effect on my family: the poisons from these products likely led to my lifelong disability, smoke from cigarettes caused me to stop breathing as a young child, and tobacco was likely a contributor to the loss of my mother at a very young age.

Despite all of this, funding from Medicaid and related programs supported my medical care as I grew up. I now live independently, work full-time, and volunteer in our community.

Many people in the disability community are like me: working, volunteering, and living independent lives with the support of Medicaid. I’m writing to share my support for the Healthy Montana Initiative, I-185, which will dedicate a percentage of the increased tobacco tax to Montana’s Medicaid program, veterans’ services, smoking prevention and cessation programs, and long-term care services for seniors and people with disabilities.

The tobacco industry has infiltrated our lives, homes and communities for decades. It’s time it pays its fair share so that 100,000 Montanans can keep their health care, and so folks with disabilities can stay in their homes. Join me in voting Yes on I-185.

Justice Ender, Missoula