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No Smoking, Thank You Very Much

Cigarette smoke -- ugh. Just the thought makes me shudder. It's the one scent that can truly drive me from mannered to raving lunatic. I can't even walk by someone smoking on the sidewalk without my eyes watering and nose starting to hurt.

You see, I was pretty much born and raised on second-hand smoke. I was a preemie in 1970 and used to joke that I just couldn't wait to escape my smoking mom's body. As a child, I was constantly sick. A cold didn't just last a few days for me. It would last for weeks and months. I'm fairly certain my lungs will never fully recover from a childhood trapped in smoke-filled rooms and cars.

So, last week, when a writer on parenting site Babble.com posed a simple enough question -- Should I hide my smoking friends from my children? -- it brought back all those memories.

The questioner seemed surprised that other parents were "shocked that I let people smoke in front of my kids" and still wrestled with the decision to allow smoking in front of her children. Much as I hate to admit it, she has a point.

We all know that smoking is bad both for the smoker and those around it. But if I had banned all smokers from ever seeing my kids, they wouldn't have met their grandmother until several months ago when she finally quit (You go, Grammy!). We'd banish her outside to smoke, and she was only allowed to wear her smoke-filled coat then, not at any time near the boys. We kept a supply of mouthwash in the bathroom. After taking a smoke, she'd come in, brush her teeth, wash her mouth and play with the boys. In all that time, we never let the boys inside her house for more than a few minutes, in part because of the toxicity of the air.

Sometimes, they'd watch her from inside and ask what she was doing. We'd explain cigarettes and smoking and how we now know they are terrible for our health -- something Grammy didn't know when she started lighting up. They accepted that and moved on.

A friend once asked me whether she should tell a mom that her nanny was smoking in the car while driving the kids -- including a baby -- to preschool pickup. In that case, my instinct was "absolutely, the mom should know anything that affects her kids' health."

What's your tolerance level for smoking around your children? Do you hide them from it or explain it? Would you tell another parent that a child care provider was smoking around his or her children or would you let it go?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 4, 2008; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Health
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Comments


Zero tolerance for smoking around my children. I grew up with a smoker and loathed it, and so did my husband. I would absolutely "tell" on a childcare provider who was smoking if she was caring for a family whose views I knew to be anti-smoker. While I do feel sorry for people who are addicted to nicotine, I think it's a disgusting habit and one everyone should break if they possibly can.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 4, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I also have zero tolerance for it. I refuse to be around it myself and I'm sure not going to let my kids be subjected to it. I would definitely tell parents if their caregiver was smoking around their kids.

Posted by: dennis5 | November 4, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

When my kids were young, I had no friends or family members who smoked. When my Dad remarried, their new Grandma smoked but never in the house and never anywhere near the kids. I'm not sure they even realized she was a smoker until she died of lung cancer!
Now at age 10 and 12, I'm not so worried. They've seen people smoke and think it's gross and generally try to get away from it. I have talked to them about it being an addiction because as much as I dislike the habit, I am not going to condemn smokers as bad people and I don't want my kids to either.

Posted by: annenh | November 4, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Just like Stacey, I grew up on second hand smoke, and it wreaked havoc on my health. My childhood seems to have been an endless bout of colds and lung problems, and now, the smell of cigarettes makes me positively ill. So no smoking in my house or in my car. My stepfather smokes outside, and my kids do see that. I figure there is not much I can do about it. Smoking is legal and the kids will occasionally see people smoke. So we explain that it's very unhealthy and possibly deadly and hope for the best. We can only control so much of what our kids see and are exposed to. So seeing someone smoke is one thing. Subjecting them to second hand smoke is totally different. I always try to move to a different area or away from the smoker, whether I am with the kids or not. The smell is just intolerable to me.

Posted by: emily8 | November 4, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't let people smoke in my kid's presence but I don't try to hide it. If guests come over who smoke, we ask them to go outside. I would definitely mention a care giver who smoked in front of kids. I do take kids to people's houses who smoke but we don't stay long.

With that said, I do think non smokers get totally carried away with their attitude toward smokers. I see non smokers asks smokers to put out their cigarettes in places were smoking is allowed (like parks or smoking sections of resturants).

I even know a guy who gets mad if someone is smoking in their own backyard because some of the smoke might float into his yard. Get real. It is their own yard. Not to mention, if your kid spends any time out doors around cars, the car exhaust is probably worse for you then some possible smoke from a neighbor's yard.

Posted by: foamgnome | November 4, 2008 9:51 AM | Report abuse

While i feel VERY strongly about my 6 year old never smoking, sanctimonious first graders are annoying! When we saw one of the local Safeway checkers smoking behind the store on a break, my daughter pointed at her, scowled, and said (very loudly) "Smoking is bad for you!" The woman looked sheepish and insulted until I pointed out that we all do things that aren't good for us and until she started eating green vegetables my daughter should keep her judgment to herself.

Posted by: jkun | November 4, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

"I would definitely tell parents
if their caregiver was smoking around their kids."

What a tattletale! I expect tattling from 3rd graders and discourage them from doing so, but from an adult? Please!

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 4, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Whacky, I would also want someone to do the same for me. And if you want to call it being a tattletale, I will gratefully wear that t-shirt.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 4, 2008 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I grew up with 2 smoking parents, as did my husband... everyone smoked back then (the 60s). While neither of us were sickly as children, my husband did have a heart attack at age 44 with no prior history. I have wondered whether his parents' smoking was partly to blame.

His mom only quit smoking a couple of years before she died of ovarian cancer... and his dad (age 74) just quit after a diagnosis of COPD. My kids bugged him for years to quit. They even commented on the smell of his jacket when he visits. They know smoking is bad for you and they also think it's gross.

I agree that anyone taking care of children should let the parents know if they smoke.

Posted by: lorenw507 | November 4, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I also grew up in a smoking house, and I detest it. It's really disgusting. When my mother comes to visit, she has to smoke outside. Yes, even if it's below freezing. When we visit them, they have a choice. We stay in a hotel, or she smokes outside. They prefer having us stay with them, so she smokes outside. The weather is temperate where they are, so no freezing necessary! This rule was implemented after one horrible visit where we all (me, husband, baby) ended up with hacking coughs about 2 days in.

As far as in public, I hate it there, too. Walking through a cloud of smoke means my hair will smell of it the rest of the day. However, it's not illegal, so I have no right to say anything. I'm very thankful smokers are limited these days, especially in planes and restaurants. Though God forbid I get stuck on a plane next to someone who's been marinating in one of the airports' smoking chambers for 60 mins before a flight. Gag. Smokers stink.

Posted by: atb2 | November 4, 2008 10:17 AM | Report abuse

So much complaining about cigarettes - the dangers of smoking are so exaggerated it is ridiculous you would think you die automatically - my children are strong enough to thrive in a diverse world. People engage in dangerous lifestyle behavior all of the time. For some people at different phases/transitions in their life smoking helps fill a void. But I think smoking, for some, takes the place of a much-needed villain, so as to avoid worrying about real problems.

Posted by: jcb3 | November 4, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I also grew up in a house with two smoking parents, but never picked up the habit. People who come to our house don't smoke. We taught the kids all about the health hazards of smoking, and to the best of our knowledge they don't smoke. However....

some of the "anti-smoking nazis" really get on my nerves. Yeah, smoking's bad, but so are a lot of other things. atb2: yes, it can be unpleasant to be next to a smoker on a flight because of the smell, but given the choice between the smoker and the woman who took a bath in perfume (and refreshes her perfume twice in mid-flight) I'd rather have the smoker. Come to think of it, I'd probably rather have the smoker than the 350-pound person who doesn't really fit in his seat, too.

And I did get a kick out of a woman who complained about a smoker in the parking lot of a football game one time - while surrounded by diesel smoke-spewing buses!

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | November 4, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Liberals are pansies. You can only smoke cigars in a few places in Northern Va. Cigarettes in bar areas in Va. Not in MD/DC. If you put your a child in a daycare where the teachers smoke in front of the child then you maybe you should change day cares. In Europe and in Asia, people smoke socially at diners.

Posted by: Italiaxxx | November 4, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX, the pack of tattlers in my neighborhood is what I call the "gossip ring", and in my opinion, they do each other more harm than good.

The fact is that if any care giver smokes in an enclosed area or even next to a child, especially habitually, the parent will smell it on their kid. Most likely, the parent is already aware of the smoking issue so telling them isn't going to educate them in something they don't already know. And if they don't know, there is nothing you can do to help them. Clueless is as clueless does.

I don't see what good tattling could come from it. That's all.

Posted by: WhackyWeasel | November 4, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

It's funny that folks who are so worried about cigarette smoke are perfectly happy to have their kids breath coal fumes and diesel toxins all day long and never think twice about it. It is smart to worry about what your kid is breathing but focusing on cigarettes instead of the things that really affect all of our health is misinformed to say the least.

Posted by: bob29 | November 4, 2008 10:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Whacky on this. If a caregiver is smoking routinely in the presence of a child, the parents should notice it because of the smell. The caregiver will smell of smoke, and so will the child. I probably would not mention it UNLESS I knew the parents well and was absolutely sure that they did not know or would disapprove of this. Otherwise, I try to mind my own business.

Posted by: emily8 | November 4, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

My mother died last year from emphysema. She smoked 3 packs a day for most of my growing up years. I hate cigarettes. However, my in laws smoke. They smoke outside and come in all stinky. But you know what, I make them as comfortable in our house as possible because my kids absolutely love them. If I made it a hassle to come see us -- mouthwash, etc -- my kids would see them less than the three times a year they do. The effect on the kids for these visits is very small if at all.

The only time I went off about smoking was my daughters 6th bday. I was just coming back from seeing my mother in hospice who struggled for every breath. We were at dinner and as we left, we passed by a group of smokers. My daughter looks up and me and says "I cannot wait to grow up and smoke." I started to cry and tell her something about her grandmother dying in a hospital room right that very minute sucking for every ounce of air she could get. . . my daughter has not mentioned smoking again, and those poor smokers slinked away.

Posted by: MomTo2Kids | November 4, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I also grew up in a smoking house, and I detest it. It's really disgusting. When my mother comes to visit, she has to smoke outside. Yes, even if it's below freezing. When we visit them, they have a choice. We stay in a hotel, or she smokes outside. They prefer having us stay with them, so she smokes outside. The weather is temperate where they are, so no freezing necessary! This rule was implemented after one horrible visit where we all (me, husband, baby) ended up with hacking coughs about 2 days in.

As far as in public, I hate it there, too. Walking through a cloud of smoke means my hair will smell of it the rest of the day. However, it's not illegal, so I have no right to say anything. I'm very thankful smokers are limited these days, especially in planes and restaurants. Though God forbid I get stuck on a plane next to someone who's been marinating in one of the airports' smoking chambers for 60 mins before a flight. Gag. Smokers stink.


How much would you like to bet that this lady is one of the women you pass each and everyday that wears a half a bottle of perfume or uses a half a can of hair spray. But it's alright if were forced to smell her foul perfume. She likes it. If I was your mother I would send you to a hotel. This is my house if you have an issue get a room. Health problems, doubt it, mental problems More than likely. I grew up in a smoking house, and smoke. I have never had any of the problems I hear the wieners here crying about. The problems not smoking the problem is were raising little girly men. How about you grow up and act like an adult instead of a child. God help us the US has turned into a brady bunch version of it's former self. SAD.

Posted by: askgees | November 4, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

AB- Actually, I almost added the perfume-soaked example, too. Fortunately, I've never been stuck next to that person. They seem more rare than smokers. And I've been fortunate to never sit next to a chronic farter or a mouth-breather with halitosis.

I'm definitely an anti-smoker, and I'm not at all ashamed. I would never date a smoker, and I would prefer my family members to stop smoking. Mainly, it's the smell, especially when I'm pregnant. There's a very good chance I will watch my mother die from a smoking-related disease, but I have no personal health concerns from it.

And who says I'm not worried about other pollutants in the air, water, etc? It's just not the topic for the day.

Posted by: atb2 | November 4, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

You can't assume parents will be able to smell cigarette smoke on caregivers (or their kids). My mother had such a poor sense of smell that she was not able to smell smoke on clothes/hair (as her teen kids in experimenting with smoking and drinking knew and counted on).

We don't allow smoking around our kids, but don't freak out by incidental exposure. We do think about moving to a place with better air quality (from DC), but that's only one element (and not a weighty one) in the equation.

Posted by: TonyatheTiger | November 4, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

To Italiaxxx:

Actually, Europe is also changing their view of smoking. In Ireland, smoking is no longer permitted in pubs. I think in England as well. Yes, you will see more smokers in much of Europe than you will see in the US, but the consequences of smoking, and more importantly of second-hand smoke, are not exagerated. They are not the only risks we face in life, but they are among the risks that one person can force on another. (Drunk driving is another example - the driver may be willing to gamble with his/her own life, but I resent the fact they he/she is gambling with the lives of everyone on the road with him.)

I'm currently pregnant with my 1st, and while I (perhaps naively) consider it a teaching opportunity if my future child sees someone smoking and asks about it, I will avoid situations where either one of us is actually breathing in someone else's smoke.

Posted by: JHBVA | November 4, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm actually very allergic to cigarette smoke (coughing, sneezing, hives), so I avoid it at all costs. Most of my family doesn't smoke so it is not an issue for me, but I can't imagine isolating my child from people as long as they are not smoking in their faces....

Posted by: annwhite1 | November 4, 2008 11:43 AM | Report abuse

I have no problem with expecting Grandma to go outside to smoke, but forcing her to brush her teeth afterward seems like a needless act of deliberate shaming.

And Stacey, the lungs are the last thing to develop in a baby, so all preemies have respiratory issues. My first wife was a preemie and constantly sick with respiratory illnesses, but no one in her family had ever smoked.

Posted by: tomtildrum | November 4, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Re: the perfume comment. One of the most distateful things I've had to do in my career is to speak to people who use too much perfume to the extent that it seriously bothers others, especially those with allergies. Wearing strong perfume over time dulls your sense of smell, and it falls to others to explain to you that you've become a polluter of the air. It is unintentional, unlike smoking, so it makes it harder to tell someone they stink, but wow, sometimes, perfume can make your eyes burn.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 4, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

This is an issue it's never even occurred to me to worry about. I don't think we know anyone who smokes more than occasionally, so it hasn't been on my radar screen.

That all said, I'm not anti-smoking. As long as there's nobody actually smoking inside my home or blowing smoke into DD's face, then frankly, I don't care about it. I'd be ok with a caregiver smoking, as long as (a) it wasn't in an enclosed space with my kid, and (b) his/her cigarette breaks didn't affect his/her ability to watch my kid.

Posted by: newsahm | November 4, 2008 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I grew up in the 60's in SoCal when the smog was so bad that you couldn't see the mountains that were less than two miles from our house. It took kids puking while running the track at school for someone to finally realize how bad it was for our lungs.

My family were all smokers. Sundays when we were all together, there was a constant cloud hanging over the dining room table. My parents actually thought they were helping us when they got a car with air conditioning and they could smoke with the windows rolled up.

My mother died last month from COPD. She was the last of the family and each and every one died from a smoking-related disease.

I suffer terribly from asthma and terrible congestion each and every time I get an URI. Makes me furious because my damage was all from second hand smoke and LA smog.

Don't forget the most important part of this. Rally and write to the powers that be about smoking in the movies and on TV shows. For a while, when that was reduced, the smoking rate went down, then it was allowed and well, you know the rest of the story.

Posted by: ConcernedVoter2008 | November 4, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I TOTALLY agree with "tattling" on that Nanny. Secondhand smoke is a known contributor to SIDS, so the fact that she is smoking around the baby is just not acceptable. The risk of SIDS would motivate me to tell the parents, rather than a sense of "tattling." I might even tell the nanny herself, who probably doesn't know about that risk.

I think its also in the manner of how you tell. I wouldn't act sanctimonious about it, but I would share what my pediatrician told me on the matter.

I highly doubt that the parents know that their children are around smoke. Considering the level of scrutiny in this area on nannies, I doubt any parent would be "cool" with it.

I would feel like I wasn't being a responsible neighbor if I didn't at least tell the parents that their nanny was smoking with the kids in the car. If they know, fine. But if they don't, I feel they should know about something that is impacting their children's health---ESPECIALLY the baby.

Posted by: hillmannic | November 4, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Tell the care provider that you see her/him smoking. If you are not willing to confront the person directly, don't go to the employer. The employer may know and may permit it.
The only smoker in my family is a brother-in-law. He smokes on his screened porch at home, and goes outside at others' homes. However, he does smoke in the car; for the few times per year that my son rides in their car it is not worth it to keep him from his cousins. My son knows that smoking is bad and my brother-in-law knows I want him to quit. Like the lady said, a sanctimonious 1st grader is a bit much.

Posted by: NoVaMusicMom | November 4, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

As a former smoker, (29 smoking, 2yrs 3mos quit) I apologize for smoking around kids or within eye sight of children. If I knew then what I know now......

Posted by: busdriver420 | November 4, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

I am a European-born smoker with two children. I never smoke inside the house or a car, but I do smoke on trips, in the backyard, on the beach with my children. It does not affect their attitude towards me, they never complained about the smell. However, I am irritated that I have to hide from their classmates when they come to visit, from the classmates' parents and from my neighbors when I walk the dog. I am a working adult with a graduate degree - why do I have to feel like a criminal? Why will people think that I am uneducated low-class person if they know that I smoke? Secondhand smoking is unpleasant in a closed quarters, but outside we are exposed to all kinds of smells, and the smoke disappears in the air in a matter of seconds. My clothes never stink. I am tired of trying to hide my habit. So what if other people's children see me smoke? They see their parents drink wine, right? Smoking does not turn a person in a vomiting, moronic, dangerous individual like a high dose of alcohol does.

Posted by: Smoker3 | November 4, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I grew up with a father who smoked, though certainly not heavily and indoors. He no longer smokes (a hospital visit revealed that his lung capacity was much diminished), so there's no need to struggle over that issue.

I can't say as growing up around a moderate amount of 2nd hand smoke diminished my health (no asthma, allergies were unrelated), so I wouldn't run screaming from a situation where my kids would be exposed to a little smoke. However, I wouldn't expose them to an environment heavy with smoke or for any extended period.

The big problem, I think, is that growing up with a smoker as a parent is that it's a habit likely to be passed down. I'm one of three sons, one of whom took up smoking and the other chewing tobacco (uggh). I had a near escape--tried it in high school and liked it, but decided against taking up the habit because I knew the long term problems. Fortunately, the hook never got in too deep for me.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 4, 2008 1:09 PM | Report abuse

My dad had a much simpler approach. My great uncle, a WWII vet, always had a pack of Lucky Strikes around. My dad found an old, dried up pack in one of his uncle's toolboxes and offered one each to my brother and me (about ages 9 and 11 at the time). They were so awful, that neither of us had much inclination to ever try smoking again.

Posted by: bethesda11 | November 4, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Luckily, this isn't a problem for us; I've been allergic to cigarette smoke since I was a kid, so all of my relatives who smoked quit 30-40 years ago so they could see me. For the same reason, I couldn't have dated someone who smoked, and couldn't have stayed at his parents' house if they smoked (or allowed them to smoke in mine). Fortunately, none of my in-laws smoke, so it hasn't been an issue. But if they did, I'd have just explained up front that it's a medical thing, and here are my limits. I have the same issue with dogs, and that's how I deal with it, without much problem; generally, reasonable, well-meaning people just don't get upset or take it as a personal insult when I can't visit all day because of their dog, or whatever.

At the same time, I don't see any reason to get upset at folks who smoke where it's legal. I remember the bad old days too vividly -- the years when I couldn't go much of anywhere because smoking was allowed everywhere, and it seemed like everyone did it. I appreciate how much things have changed. Nowadays, I can go out to dinner without even having to think about whether I'll be able to breathe once I get there. That's way cool.

Posted by: laura33 | November 4, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Smoker3: Thank you. I am a smoker as well. However, I never smoke inside my house or inside my car (unless the window is rolled down) and generally make a over-the-top effort when in public places (like bus stops) to make sure I'm at least several feet away from any non-smokers so as to avoid blowing smoke anywhere near them. Is smoking bad for me? Sure. But it's a personal choice. Everybody has their vices, and quite frankly - the comparison to abuse of alcohol or the obese really rings true for me. Somehow its ok to publicly insult a smoker (and its now ok to even discriminate against in personnel practices) - but it's not ok to public insult the obese? You might say that those who are overweight don't impact the rest of society - but of course we're picking up their health care tabs too; not to mention giving our seats on public transport etc. I think its perfectly ok to demand that your children exist in a smoke free environment and to require visiting smokers to take it outside. Just don't take this too far. I for one am tired of being harassed about my habit in public as though I am somehow an idiot who needs educating or some kind of sub-human species.

Posted by: alittlet | November 4, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"My clothes never stink. I am tired of trying to hide my habit. So what if other people's children see me smoke? They see their parents drink wine, right? Smoking does not turn a person in a vomiting, moronic, dangerous individual like a high dose of alcohol does."

Sure, you have the right to smoke, but by the same token, people have the right to avoid breathing your smoke. You do smell of smoke, even if you only smoke outside. My stepfather only smokes outside, and I can smell it on him and his clothes. You can't smell it because you are used to it. Your kids don't complain because they are used to it. I didn't complain about my smoking parents when I was a kid either. It does not mean that it did not affect me.

As for the drinking analogy, I doubt any parent would want their kids to hang around an intoxicated adult. I would not be drinking to intoxication if my kids had their friends over (actually, I would not drink to the point of intoxication period), and I would not want my kids to visit households where the parents are intoxicated.

Posted by: emily8 | November 4, 2008 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Smoker3, your clothes do stink, you just don't notice it. When you are constantly around smoke you get used to the smell and it becomes normal. My mother smoked when I was growing up and I had no idea how bad our house smelled until I went away to college for four months. And my clothes and all my other stuff totally reeked when I would return to school from being in the smoke-filled house. And second-hand smoke is extremely unpleasant to non-smokers even outside.

Having said that, I agree you have every right to smoke provided you aren't subjecting it to people who don't want to be around it.

Posted by: dennis5 | November 4, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

the stench of self-righteousness is worse the the smell of cigarettes. garfinkle: get over yourself.

Posted by: jennifermadson | November 4, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I hate smoking more than almost anything in this world. Both of my parents smoked 24/7 when I was a kid. I was so embarrassed around friends whose parents didn't smoke. Our house had that gross yellow tinge to the wallpaper and there was always a "haze" in the air. The worst was carpooling and subjecting my friends to my mom puffing away in the front seat. Or going back to college after a break and realizing that all of my clothes smelled like smoke. That being said, my mother passed away 5 years ago at age 54 from LUNG CANCER, but my dad still smokes- as do 1 brother and my sister!

I now have 4 year old twins that were born very premature and had severe lung/heart issues for a while. I could not let them be around anyone smoking for a long time. So I made my dad smoke outside at my house and leave his sweatshirt/jacket outside! And I told him that we would NEVER come to stay at his house unless it became smoke-free. (It was slowly becoming that during the cancer anyway). So now his house has been repainted and basically cleared of 30+ years of smoke damage. And he only smokes outside! If these changes hadn't happened, my daughters would not really know their grandfather.

As far as letting my kids be around other adults that smoke, that situation hasn't come up yet. None of my friends smoke and so far, none of the parents of my kids' friends smoke. But if the girls end up with a friend that lives in a smoking house, I might suggest that playdates are always over here!

And thank god Montgomery County has a smoke-free law for restaurants now, or we would not visit several restaurants in the area. Because even the non-smoking sections reek of smoke in most restaurants.

Posted by: LBH219 | November 4, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

dennis5 says "My mother smoked when I was growing up and I had no idea how bad our house smelled until I went away to college for four months. And my clothes and all my other stuff totally reeked when I would return to school from being in the smoke-filled house. "

YUP!!!!! Even after I got married, my husband and I would visit my family for a few days and then come home and have to wash our coats and EVERYTHING in our bags because it all smelled like smoke. Even silly things like slippers and the bag itself! Gross!

Posted by: LBH219 | November 4, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I understand there is a new product on the market from ParentsURParnoid. A full bubble wrap suit complete with HEPA filter. It is available in sizes from newborn to adult.

Posted by: nonamehere | November 4, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I also grew up in a house with 2 smoking parents--sounds like a lot of us have similar backgrounds with the Sunday mornings spent swamped in a fog of smoke--that and hearing your parents cough their lungs out every morning--ugh. My sisters and I all have varying degrees of breathing problems (although none of us ever smoked); my Dad died of lung cancer two years ago. Personally, I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, so even sitting next to a person who has been smoking gives me asthma, not to mention breathing in someone else's smoke when I'm trying to just enjoy being outside. Smokers love to bash non-smokers for being intolerant--but the facts are the facts: their smoking absolutely and immediately negatively affects my health and my right to enjoy breathing air. So lets get real: if even you don't want to have your windows up when you're smoking in your car because you don't want it to smell like a cigarette, you should be able to appreciate how a non-smoker feels sitting behind you in traffic.

Posted by: hcpf | November 4, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

I have to say, maybe I sounded a bit shrill when I explained the ultimatum I gave my mom, but we were both cool about it. They had just moved into a new place, and for whatever reason, every time she lit a cigarette, the smoke went straight to the bedrooms. In 15 years of visiting my parents, I've never reacted to the smoke, but it was brutal that trip. Even worse, our 6 month old was up coughing half the night. So, I went downstairs, explained, and she apologized like crazy and quit smoking inside. She doesn't have any interest in causing her granddaughter discomfort. True, she could have told us to take a hike, but then she'd miss baths and bedtime and all the fun baby stuff, not to mention the adult time after the baby is asleep. She also knows smoking is a horrible, disgusting habit, and she explains that to my daughter every time she shows interest in the ashes, etc. My mom is really great, not perfect, but great. She certainly doesn't want any of us to smoke. Not all smokers are crazy people, nor are all people who detest smoke.

Posted by: atb2 | November 4, 2008 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I quit smoking the day I found out I was pregnant with my now 4-month-old daughter. I haven't had a cigarette since.

Back when I was a smoker, I never smoked in the presence of children. Smokers are entitled to their unhealthy albeit enjoyable habit, but it's just common courtesy to excuse oneself to smoke if anyone who could be sensitive to it is around.

Posted by: baranv | November 4, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"OUTA MY FACE!" .... song for kids to perform re. dangers to children from exposure to secondhand smoke (featured in school concerts from Maine to Illinois):

http://soundclick.com/share?songid=5190811

(free-to-play mp3) A positive, funny, and non-threatening way to present this concern to parents and community .... performed by children in grades K-5 -- and even school principals! -- with great effect, and to thunderous applause, and laughter!

Posted by: Mainesongwriter | November 4, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Smoking, though a bad habit in and of itself, should not dictate who you are and are not friends with. If that is the case, then perhaps your friendship wasn't worth all that much to begin with...

If you have kids and you have friends that smoke, I doubt any smoker would have a problem with you asking them to do it outside.

To assume anything else is bigoted.

Posted by: indep2 | November 4, 2008 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I'd mention a smoking nanny to the parents. That just makes common sense. She's endangering them as if she popped them in the car with no seat belts on. You at least get pulled over and ticketed for that.

No smoking around my kids. It's a nasty habit - and we don't have to put up with alcoholics or drug addicts pushing their addiction problems off onto us, so why would we allow smokers to blow their problem in our face? In fact, people seem to have less tolerance for fat people than they do for smokers. I think that's really wrong.

Posted by: catweasel3 | November 4, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

fr whackyweasel:

>...The fact is that if any care giver smokes in an enclosed area or even next to a child, especially habitually, the parent will smell it on their kid. Most likely, the parent is already aware of the smoking issue so telling them isn't going to educate them in something they don't already know. And if they don't know, there is nothing you can do to help them. Clueless is as clueless does.

I don't see what good tattling could come from it. That's all. ..

You're not "tattling", you are reporting that the caregiver is harming your child by sucking away at a cigarette in your child's presence, simple as that. I would DEFINITELY report the caregiver, AND insure that my child is NOT subjected to foul cigarette smoke. Smokers have NO right to foul the air that I breathe!

Posted by: Alex511 | November 4, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"So lets get real: if even you don't want to have your windows up when you're smoking in your car because you don't want it to smell like a cigarette, you should be able to appreciate how a non-smoker feels sitting behind you in traffic."

hcpf - do I understand you correctly? Are you asserting that, when stuck in traffic on say the beltway, with dozens of cars and trucks all around, you can smell and are bothered by the cigarette smoke emanating from a car ahead of you in traffic? And it's not mixed in with or overpowered by the smells coming from all the cars, buses and trucks?

Cause, ya know, I just don't think that I believe anyone's that sensitive. Who knows; I could be wrong. But it really sounds fishy.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | November 4, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Death is unavoidable once we accept that and move on smoking becomes far less objectionable even around kids.

Posted by: cilp33 | November 4, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

"It's funny that folks who are so worried about cigarette smoke are perfectly happy to have their kids breath coal fumes and diesel toxins all day long and never think twice about it."

Actually, I worry about BOTH, thank you very much. But, there is little I can do about all fumes/toxis. I can control (at least for now) if people smoke around me and my kid.

You want to smoke and be a stinking someday cancer victim . . . more power to you. Keep your vile habit away from me. I have zero tolerance for it (and thankfullyl, the number of people who feel like me are increasing.)

Posted by: liledjen4901 | November 4, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else go with their kids this morning to vote? We're all so excited. I can't wait until tonight to watch the returns roll in. I predict a huge win for Obama, a 60-seat majority, and major upsets elsewhere for Republicans.

Sorry, but I just can't think about much else today!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 4, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"Smoking, though a bad habit in and of itself, should not dictate who you are and are not friends with. If that is the case, then perhaps your friendship wasn't worth all that much to begin with..."


I completely disagree with this. I don't have any friends who are smokers now, and I would really doubt I could form a friendship with someone who smokes, because I can't stand being around cigarette smoke. I would choose not to spend time with such a person. I never even dated anyone who smoked, though I certainly had crushes on a couple smokers in college. The one guy I kissed who'd had a cigarette, ugh, it almost made me throw up. It was like kissing an ashtray and it completely turned off any attraction I had to him. There are definitely intelligent, wonderful, sensitive and lovely people who happen to smoke, but I don't hang out with them. Maybe it's my loss, but it is what it is.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 4, 2008 3:56 PM | Report abuse

WorkingMomX -- my mom took my daughter to the polls today (yes, combining multiple days' topics into one post). From all reports, my girl got a big kick out of that.

And, yeah, I'm having trouble focusing on getting work done today myself. Day felt long already at 10 AM!

BTW, how were lines? My husband tried to go right when they opened, and we had lines around the block. But he and my mom both went between @ 10 and 11, and reported short lines with minimal wait; I went at 3, and there were no lines at all.

Posted by: laura33 | November 4, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

No smoke in the house? OK, no menorah at Hanukkah!

Posted by: nonamehere | November 4, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

No smoke in the house? OK, no menorah at Hanukkah!

-----------------------------------------

What? I didn't know that Hanukkah candles were made of tobacco! I learned something today.

>:D

Posted by: lsturt | November 4, 2008 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Death is unavoidable once we accept that and move on smoking becomes far less objectionable even around kids.

Posted by: cilp33 | November 4, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

That is such a crock. Back in her smoking days, my mother used to say that. She would refuse to quit because in her words, "When you gotta go, you gotta go." Until she had a heart attack at age 53. When the doctors told her that smoking contributed to her hardening arteries, she quit immediately, because she realized that she did not want to go yet.

Posted by: emily8 | November 4, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: askgees
How much would you like to bet that this lady is one of the women you pass each and everyday that wears a half a bottle of perfume or uses a half a can of hair spray...If I was your mother I would send you to a hotel. This is my house if you have an issue get a room. Health problems, doubt it, mental problems More than likely. I grew up in a smoking house, and smoke. I have never had any of the problems I hear the wieners here crying about. The problems not smoking the problem is were raising little girly men.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow, what an a$$hat you are. This is a ridiculous argument, suggesting perfume wearing (no proof of that, and no relation - perfume has yet to be proven to kill you).

Further, the woman's mother clearly would rather have her family stay with her and doesn't mind the accomodation (good for her!). Which leads to questioning the woman's sanity on your part - utterly ridiculous.

But then we come down to your finale: that, because people are concerned about second-hand smoke, they're somehow less than manly? Beside the issue that many of these posters are probably women (given the chat), why is concern about one's health a "womanly" issue?

Are you seriously arguing that caring about your health, given the proven scientific evidence of smoking (and, anecdotes from many of the posters with relatives dying!), is not "manly"?

Well, aren't you a wittle bit sensitive, Mr. "I love to smoke"? Aww...

Far from insulting these posters with your insinuation about manhood, it sounds like someone can't take a little honest opinion and needs to grow a pair. : )

Posted by: nagatuki | November 4, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Laura -- we voted early, in fact last Friday, but lines were longish. We waited an hour outside. Didn't mind at all, even took pictures. I got up early this morning and couldn't sleep, so I took a long route to get some coffee and passed a bunch of polling places and the lines were really long, even at 6:30 p.m. The rush I'm feeling is so great. After the last 8 years, it is just wonderful to feel like at last, at last, Bush is almost done doing wreaking havoc.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 4, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I certainly appreciate everyone's comments. However, unless you are allergic to smoke, as I am, you cannot appreciate the serious and life threatening situations that may arise. If it would just be "uncomfortable" or smelly I could live with that, as I agree people should have the right to do as they please in their own home. However, when I go to a public place, I should have the right not to be put in the hospital because someone was rude enough to blow smoke in my face. I cannot open the windows of my own home as a smoker bought the condo next to me. I have to be careful wherever I go and I cannot hang around park lots where there are all kinds of fumes. If you would like to find out how I am affected, have a 200 lb person sit on your chest and try to breath. After five minutes, come back and tell me that it is OK to have your health endangered when you have taken every precaution possible without living in a bubble. Again, people have the right to smoke. I am just asking for some common courtesy so that I don't end up in the hospital.

Posted by: privacyadvocate | November 4, 2008 5:30 PM | Report abuse

With my windows rolled up and the A/C or fan on, I can smell if the person in front of me is smoking. If I'm stuck at a particularly long stoplight, I'll turn both off and just be uncomfortably warm. And don't fool yourself that the smell goes away in the open air. I hate it when I'm walking to the metro behind someone that is smoking. Unless I run until I pass them, I'll be caught in their cloud of smoke the whole way there. Neither of my grandmothers have smoked in over 40 years. One has COPD and the other just had 1/4 of her right lung removed due to lung cancer. Maybe I'm a liberal weenie, but I'd much rather be a liberal weenie that only has myself to blame for my health problems.

Posted by: dragnchic9 | November 4, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going to defend smoking, but what do you do when exposed to truck, bus and car exhaust?

I too remember the 1970's when every evening my eyes would burn and tear. It was not due to cigarette smoke but here in Washington due to vehicle exhaust.

Add to that the older electrice power plants and really the cigarette smoke doesn't bother me.

Posted by: sasha11 | November 4, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

What? I didn't know that Hanukkah candles were made of tobacco! I learned something today.

>:D

Posted by: lsturt

But candles do give off smoke, certainly a pollutant.

In addition, there are oil burning Hanukkah menorahs which probably introduce more pollutants into the house.

Posted by: nonamehere | November 4, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I started smoking Torch electronic cigarettes, there is no smoke or smell.
I have eliminated the tar and carcinogens completely. I get the nicotine through atomization and the oral fixation. Not a fire hazard, not a tobacco product so I can inhale at my office. All of my non-smoking friends now allow me to satisify my habit inside their homes. It is always best to quit, but for those who choose to smoke, electonic cigarettes are considerate. For those interested in reducing the cancer risk, and offense to non-smokers, check out the website. www.torchcigarettes.com

Posted by: Toni4 | November 4, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

"However, I never smoke inside my house or inside my car (unless the window is rolled down)"

Do you use the ashtray or throw your garbage out the window like so many others? Why is it that so many smokers think it's okay for them to litter the streets with their trash but would get mad at someone else tossing a fast-food wrapper out the window?

Posted by: Monagatuna | November 4, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

What is your tolerance level for spraying PCBs around your children?

What is your tolerance level for radon around your children, or methyl mercury, or lead particles?

Stripped of the acceptance that Big Tobacco buys for its product with literally billions of dollars of promotion every year, secondhand smoke is just another airborne pollutant.

Secondhand smoke is a known carcinogen and lung and heart pathogen. It it was radon or lead or PCBs we wouldn't even be having this conversation. The only reason we're even discussing this is Big Tobacco's relentless social engineering of acceptance for its highly profitable product.

Is it OK with you if someone sprays PCBs around your children?

If not, there's no reason you should accept your children having to breathe in secondhand smoke. There's no difference. And no need for discussion: you, as a parent, choose safe air for your children to breathe, and that's not up for discussion.

Posted by: jpk1 | November 5, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

My mom and step-father smoke. When they come to visit us...they smoke on the balcony. I wish I could say that our house didn't smell like smoke despite that but it did for a while after they left because they and their clothes were in it.

When I used to go visit them all of our things including those items that never made it out of our bedroom with the door continually closed stank. We would have to put our suitcase in the basement for a couple of weeks to air out and all of our clothes... including ones we never wore would have to get washed.

I have smoked in the past and sometimes want a cigarette occasionally. I think the one thing that will prevent me from ever starting again is the news I heard several weeks ago from my ex-husband. At 39 years old, he had a heart attack. The only thing that seems to be a factor in his heart attack was his smoking. And this was despite quitting for 7.5 years while we were together. I never knew smoking was a factor in heart attacks.

Posted by: Billie_R | November 5, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I find this article at best hysterical, if not straight from the pages of the brothers Grimm. How does Stacey react to smoking has gone down from 70% of the population in 1945 to 20-25%, with far less exposure to SHS/ETS and Asthma has risen 5 fold in the last 63 years? Being exposed to car pollution in a town or city is the equivalent of ACTIVELY smoking up to 300 cigarettes. A passive smoker inhales 1/250th of an active smoker according to the New England Journal of Medicine. And no I do not get paid by tobacco companies, I am outraged at the way the government has twisted science to suit its own agenda. If the Washington Post wants an article by me rebutting this appalling propoganda they are welcome to contact me.


Posted by: DaveAtherton | November 5, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

My husband is 70 and I am 58, we have been around smoke and smokers our entire lives and many of our friends still smoke.

The majority of baby boomers grew up with smokers, smoked themselves and I am not talking about just tobacco, and we are still the largest bubble of humans in this country.

90 million people smoked in this country, about half have quit. Those 90 million folks are not dropping dead!

You folks need to chill there are many serious problems in this country and second hand smoke is not one of them.

Posted by: kstwk | November 5, 2008 7:10 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I both once smoked. I was a casual social smoker and he was a regular smoker. We both quit over 6 years ago. I remember never smoking around anyone if it bothered them. Even in my own home. The situation now is that our good friends are smokers. She is pregnant with baby number two and as a 20 yr plus smoker, has not been able to quit. They both smoke in the house, but not where the bedrooms are. On a good day, we can visit and not suffer too much. Of course myself and my husband and two kids strip down and shower when we get home because everything stinks. They are our friends and it is their house. One problem is, now I am pregnant and I can no longer tolerate being in the same room as someone who is smoking. Sure they smoke over by the fan over the stove, but it's really suffocating especially in the winter with the windows closed. I don't know what to do. It's not a problem when they visit us since it is our home and nobody is allowed to smoke there. My dad actually goes for a walk to smoke when he visits because he doesn't want my two sons to see him, their grandpa, as a bad example. This was not at my request. Can I really ask them not to smoke in their own home while I am there? It seems like a bit much. Then again, can I say that I can't come to visit as long as they are smoking in the same room as me? I find this hard since they are good friends and we tend to visit them more than they visit us since they have the space for the kids to play etc.

I feel that my unborn baby will have enough pollutants that are not avoidable without exposing him/her to the ones that are avoidable.

What would you do?

Posted by: Andygirl28 | November 11, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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