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by Abigail Van Buren

Smoker's Wife Draws a Line in the Bedroom Until He Quits

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married 27 years. We love each other and raised two beautiful children together.

When we started dating, we were both smokers. My wife quit 20 years ago, but I continued. Two years ago, my wife told me no more sex until I do. Abby, I smoke only about 15 cigarettes a day and never in the house or car. I know it's terrible for my health, and I need to quit, but I enjoy it.

So it has been two years since we have had any intimate contact. I barely can get a kiss out of her because she says she can't stand the smell. I'm only 50, and I enjoy having sex. I don't know how much more of this I can take. Is my wife right by putting her foot down like this? She has never been a big fan of sex, but she has always satisfied me. I think this is her way of avoiding sex.

I know she's doing it because she loves me, but I have a hard time accepting it. I have tried numerous times to quit and have used medication, hypnosis, gum, etc., to no avail. Please help. -- ALL SMOKE, NO SEX IN MICHIGAN

DEAR A.S.N.S.: Forgive me if I seem to lack empathy, but I don't think you are aware of how the odor of stale tobacco affects former smokers. It is gross. The smoke clings to the smoker's skin, hair and clothing, and it's the polar opposite of an aphrodisiac.

Because medication, hypnosis, gum, etc. have not helped you to kick the habit, what's left is the old-fashioned way: cold turkey. The American Cancer Society sponsors an event every year called The Great American Smokeout. This year it is on Thursday, Nov. 21.

The theory behind it is, if someone can refrain from smoking for one day, he or she can build upon that for two days, a week, a month, etc. Many former smokers have quit this way, and if sex is as important to you as you say, I urge you to try it. (If you tell your wife you accept her terms, your situation may improve dramatically.)