DEAR ABBY: My best friend "Sally" just called and told me that she had been visiting at her brother's house. While she was there, her sister-in-law showed her a "cute little trick" she had taught Sally's 2-year-old nephew. Abby, this sister-in-law is not exactly the family favorite. She handed him a lit cigarette, and he sucked in and blew out smoke! When Sally told her how disgusting that was, the boy's 4-year-old sister piped up, demanding her turn -- which she was given.
I told Sally to call child protective services, that this is child abuse. She refused because she's afraid that it will cause a family rift.
Abby, what can be done to help those kids? -- DISGUSTED IN VIRGINIA
DEAR DISGUSTED: If, after all the recent media attention focused on the addictive nature of tobacco, Sally's sister-in-law has not realized that encouraging her children to smoke is dangerous to their health, something must be wrong with her.
The family should be told about this woman's stupid and irresponsible behavior in the hope that family pressure will force her to stop. It is possible that what Sally observed was a one-time lapse in judgment. However, if it persists, I agree, child protective services should be notified.