Marie’s Story

Marie Wilkins

Marie Wilkins

On May 2, 2013, the New York City Council Health Committee heard testimony from community members on the proposed legislation that is meant to reduce youth access and addiction to tobacco products.

Marie Wilkins, a woman from the Bronx who suffers from Buerger’s Disease, a smoking-related illness that attacks the blood vessels and can lead to amputations, was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal.  She believes the City should move to prevent young people from a dangerous addiction.

“After my leg was amputated all I could think of was getting a cigarette,” Wilkins, whose story has been featured in anti-smoking ad-campaigns, told the committee from a motorized wheelchair. “If that’s not addiction, I don’t know what is.”

Marie’s testimony was submitted to the City Council Health Committee.  We’d like to share her testimony:

I’m here today because I am a victim of smoking. I have Berger’s Disease which is a terrible circulation disease. It stops oxygen and blood from flowing freely through your arteries. This then causes amputations, which I have had several (leg, partial foot and several fingertips). This disease is unbelievably cruel and painful and it comes from smoking, which is so addictive.

Let me give you an example.  After my leg was amputated, all I could think of was getting out of the hospital so I could get a cigarette. Now if that’s not addictive, I don’t know what is. Luckily, I got help, and I am proud to say it will be seven years May 15th that I will be smoke-free. I hope my story inspires those who are trying to stop smoking to get help, and for those who don’t smoke, helps them to never start. Not everyone who smokes will get this disease, but why take that chance of being that unlucky one, LIKE ME?

Mayor Bloomberg is trying to stop stores from subjecting our young adults and children from seeing ads, posters and cigarettes as soon as they enter the store. A section all the way in the back of the store sounds good to me. After all, out of sight, out of mind. I endorse this idea and I hope you will too. Let’s try to keep cigarettes as far away as we can and try to encourage people to see what smoking really does. Thank You.”

Thank you, Marie, for sharing your story: