DEAR ABBY: My mother, "Adele," never misses your column, so I'm hoping this will get her attention. She has smoked for most of my 28 years of life, with the exception of when she "quit" from 2000 to 2003. (Her mother died of lung cancer.) I beg her not to smoke around me or my 3- and 4-year-olds. My daughter has even told her she smells bad and asked her to put out her cigarette.
Adele claims she shouldn't have to go outside to smoke because smoke rises, and although you can see and smell it, there are no chemicals left in the air to hurt us. Adele says the reason she doesn't want to quit is she read somewhere that quitting "cold turkey" increases your chance of complications from smoking. She refuses to believe she's hurting anyone.
Would you please tell her that not only is it inconsiderate and selfish to tell us to leave the house or get out of the car if we don't want to breathe in the smoke, it's also hurting her and putting her grandchildren at risk? -- CAN'T GET THROUGH, OZARK, ARK.
DEAR CAN'T GET THROUGH: Your mother is severely addicted to tobacco and in a state of denial. It is common knowledge that secondhand smoke is harmful. That's why some states have outlawed smoking in the workplace and public buildings.
I don't know where your mother got the notion that quitting smoking cold turkey could have a negative impact on her health. For years, doctors have said that it's the most effective way to stop. For smokers who can't face the challenge of sudden withdrawal from nicotine, there are now gums, patches and cessation programs to help people break the habit. Your mother's problem isn't that she's ignorant; it's that she's so wedded to her addiction she doesn't want to quit.
As much as you love her, you are now a mother yourself. It is your job to protect your children from anything that could harm them, and that includes secondhand smoke. From now on, do not take them to your mother's home; instead, entertain her in your smoke-free home. If she insists on smoking in her car, you will have to be the one to provide the transportation. And for your own sanity, when the time comes for your mother to pay the piper as her own mother did, do not grieve that you didn't have more time with her. She lived her life the way she wanted.