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by Abigail Van Buren

Happy Relationship Threatens to Go Up in Cigarette Smoke

DEAR ABBY: My girlfriend, "Jasmine," has been seeing a therapist to deal with serious depression and anxiety issues, and I think she has done well for the most part.

I am just upset that she has taken to smoking with her co-workers to deal with stress. I don't like smoking. My mother smokes, and I find it disgusting.

I hate saying these things to Jasmine because when I do, she takes it personally. We have discussed this more than once, and she insists that my asking her to stop is "being controlling." I can't know what stress she is experiencing because of her emotional problems, but I do know that smoking isn't the solution.

I love Jasmine with all my heart, and it's devastating to me to say this, but I can't be with a smoker. Our relationship has been great, but I do not choose to spend my life in a haze of tobacco smoke. I am in college and every day I see kids my age outside freezing their butts off for a smoke because it isn't allowed inside.

Please help me, Abby. This is something I can't compromise on. It's enough that I already have one person close to me who smokes -- I don't need another. – ANTI-SMOKER IN MICHIGAN

DEAR ANTI-SMOKER: The fellow students you see freezing their butts off for a smoke aren't doing it because they like it. They are freezing their butts off because they're addicted to nicotine, need their fix and are willing to get it in sub-zero weather if they must.

People who reach for a cigarette when they are feeling stressed regard the cigarette as a "friend" they can hold onto. What they don't realize is the cigarette is holding onto THEM -- and occasional smokers become dependent not only on the ritual but also the "drug."

You have a hard choice to make, and so does Jasmine. Perhaps it will be easier if Jasmine does the choosing. Tell her that if you smell tobacco on her hair, skin, breath or clothing, you won't kiss her. If she hasn't quit smoking within 30 days, you'll have your answer.