Dear Annie: My grandmother picked up her first cigarette when she was 11, beginning an addiction that ultimately would take her life. Her story is unfortunately common.
I became a tobacco control advocate to spread the message that tobacco is harmful. I don't want to see people's lives or dreams destroyed by these products. I am confident that we can create the first tobacco-free generation. It may sound far-fetched, but I believe we are within reach of a day when tobacco doesn't sicken people anymore.
Tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, the vast majority of whom started smoking as kids. The tobacco industry aggressively markets their products to kids with flashy ads and sweet flavors. Tobacco industry documents reveal they have long targeted kids as "replacement smokers" for the people killed by their products each year.
Enough is enough. Kids are taking a stand against Big Tobacco to say they are not a "replacement," and they will not let tobacco use take over their lives. Young people are posting selfies on social media at #NotAReplacement to say they will not be fooled by the tobacco industry's tactics.
March 18 is Kick Butts Day, a national day of activism sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that empowers youth to stand out, speak up and seize control against Big Tobacco. Please urge your readers to visit kickbuttsday.org to learn more about what is being done in their communities to reduce tobacco use and how they can help. — Magi Linscott, age 19, Harrisonburg, Va.
Dear Magi Linscott: Our condolences on the loss of your grandmother. So many people still are not aware of the long-term dangers of smoking when they pick up that first cigarette. Thanks to you, we hope our readers will visit kickbuttsday.org to see how they can help.
Dear Annie: I have read letters from parents of ungrateful adult children and always thought, "How sad." Now I know exactly how they feel.
My husband and I just celebrated 50 years of marriage. It has not been the happiest of marriages, but we love and respect each other, and he is my best friend. We have three children. One sent us a frame that said "50th Anniversary" on it. He bought it online, and the enclosed slip wished us a happy anniversary. Another child gave us a large gift certificate at Christmas with the understanding that it would also be for our anniversary. Our youngest totally ignored the occasion.
We have always been generous with our time, talent and treasure to these "kids" and especially our grandchildren. I have so many mixed emotions running through my heart and mind. I have ignored so much in the past, but this just tipped me over the edge. Should I let them know? — Only Desire Acknowledgement
Dear Only: Yes. When you say it has not been the "happiest of marriages," perhaps your children don't feel this is truly a celebration — for you or for them. Even so, a 50th is a major milestone and should be acknowledged. Let the kids know that their detached response was disappointing, and tell them how much it would have meant to have received a phone call or personal card. We hope they do better.
Dear Annie: I could have written the letter from "Frustrated Pastor's Wife." I've lost count of the times my husband has officiated at fancy, expensive weddings and received no compensation at all, even after telling them his fee.
When a couple is planning their ceremony, they need to remember who the one person is who needs to be at their wedding to make it happen. It is not the wedding planner, floral shop or dressmaker. It is the pastor. Please compensate them accordingly. — Another Pastor's Wife
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2015. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.