DEAR ABBY: In your response to a woman whose nicotine-addicted mother insists that smoking isn't harmful, you stated, "It's common knowledge that secondhand smoke is harmful."
I'm not a smoker, but there is no scientific evidence that I can find to support your statement. Do some research, and you'll find that "common knowledge" is junk science. Be objective and you will see there is no real "evidence" behind the claim.
Cigarette smoke is irritating to me. But the secondhand smoke thing is nonsense, and you should check all of the sources before giving advice -- not just the ones that promote the anti-smoking stance. -- NONSMOKER IN FLORIDA
DEAR NONSMOKER: Where on Earth did you do your research? According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association titled "Passive Smoking and the Risk of Heart Disease" (1992), "Secondhand smoke causes between 35,000 and 40,000 deaths from heart disease every year." That same year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that "3,000 otherwise healthy nonsmokers will die of lung cancer annually because of their exposure to secondhand smoke." That is why the EPA classified secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, a substance that is known to cause human cancer. If you doubt this, please contact the Heart Association and the American Cancer Society. They'll be glad to clarify further. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I smoked literally all of my life. My mother smoked while she was pregnant with me, both of my parents smoked in the house while I was growing up, and, not surprisingly, I began smoking at 14. However, I tried to be considerate of those around me.
I agree with your statement that the daughter is going to have to look out for her children and herself. However, I disagree with your remark that she shouldn't grieve for her mother if she dies of lung cancer. Mine died at 58 from lung cancer, and I still grieve for her. -- EX-SMOKER, MESA, ARIZ.
DEAR EX-SMOKER: Please accept my sympathy for your loss. However, what I said was, "Don't grieve because she lived her life the way she wanted." I would say the same about someone who died engaging in a dangerous sport.
DEAR ABBY: You seem to think that daughter should sacrifice her relationship with her mother over smoking. If the daughter is that strict about it, I hope the mother leaves her entire estate to the American Cancer Society and never sees her daughter or grandkids again! -- MILDRED IN SUFFOLK, VA.
DEAR MILDRED: I did NOT say the daughter should "sacrifice her relationship with her mother." I said she should entertain her mother in her own, smoke-free home.
DEAR ABBY: As a member of a family of smokers, I'm an expert about passive smoke. With one sister dead and my daughter in a wheelchair, I am now caring for another sister who is on oxygen at night and part of the day. Smoking and passive smoke were the cause of many of their health problems. I am no longer tolerant of smokers. I have posted signs of "Oxygen in use" and "No smoking on premises," and no longer allow smoking in my home. -- "MEANIE" IN MIDLAND, TEXAS
DEAR MEANIE: I hope you prevail. Another reader described how her grandmother would remove her oxygen mask to take a drag on her cigarette because she couldn't kick the habit.
DEAR ABBY: I was a smoker. My wife died of cancer not related to smoking. During her confinement and treatment I spent a lot of time at a cancer research hospital and saw, firsthand, the horror stories played out daily in those places. I quit cold turkey, and it was the best move I ever made. -- LEARNED MY LESSON IN FLORIDA
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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