Nathan’s Story

Nathan, a Native American and member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, never smoked cigarettes. For 11 years, he worked at a casino that allowed smoking. Secondhand smoke contains dangerous chemicals. The exposure to secondhand smoke caused him to develop allergies and serious infections that triggered asthma attacks, eventually causing permanent lung damage called bronchiectasis. “The casino was filled with smoke from so many people smoking,” he said. Breathing in other people’s smoke on a daily basis made his health so bad that he had to leave that job.

Nathan used to be active and athletic. He served in the Marines. He loved to participate in tribal dances. After getting sick, dancing just a few steps wore him out. Nathan hoped that sharing his story would help others understand how dangerous exposure to secondhand smoke really is. Nathan’s lung damage led to his death on October 17, 2013. He was 54.


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Nathan: “I never smoked a day in my life!”

Nathan was Lakota, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, and never smoked. However, he worked in a facility where smoking was allowed, and experienced health problems as a result. In this video from CDC’s Tips From Former Smokers® campaign, Nathan describes his health problems—including asthma—triggered by exposure to secondhand smoke. He had to give up many activities he loved, including tribal dancing, because of damage to his lungs. That damage led to his early death at age 54.

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