Dear Annie: The facts about tobacco use are startling. Every day, nearly 4,000 kids under the age of 18 try their first cigarette, and another 1,000 become regular smokers. To hook kids, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year targeting kids like me with advertising near schools and malls, and they even alter these deadly products to look and taste like candy! They also oppose efforts to make it more difficult for kids to obtain cigarettes, like tobacco tax increases and smoke-free laws.
With almost 20 percent of high school students who are current smokers, we need a change, and it needs to be both youth led and adult supported. Cigarette companies cannot survive unless kids smoke, so I am thankful to be working with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as a young advocate to fight to reduce tobacco use and its devastating consequences on youth.
Your readers can get involved by visiting www.tobaccofreekids.org to learn more about what is being done in their community and how they can help. — Judy Hou, age 17, volunteer at Y Street, The Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, Richmond, Va.
Dear Judy Hou: Many thanks for your terrific letter. We hope it will inspire readers to become involved, as well as convince others not to take that first puff. Smoking kills, and it can harm those around you. If you already smoke, please quit. It doesn't make you cool. It makes you stink.
Dear Annie: My friend "Steve" has been married for 10 years. Six months ago, he had an affair. The other woman became pregnant, so Steve left his wife. But within a few months, he realized he had made a terrible mistake. The new girlfriend was verbally abusive and controlling and interfered with his relationship with his other children. He finally ended things and returned to his wife.
Now the Other Woman is refusing visitation with the new baby. Steve and his wife have hired an attorney to fight this. I know Steve has tried very hard to put his life back together and wants to do the right thing. But I was disheartened to see the new mother badmouth him on Facebook, calling him a deadbeat dad and telling horrible lies about his family. Steve pays regular child support and has already added the baby to his insurance. Meanwhile, throughout her pregnancy, this woman drank and smoked, even though Steve pleaded with her to take better care of herself.
This is a small community, and I am appalled that she has dragged Steve's name through the mud. It is affecting his children at school. I worry about this woman raising a child. Steve thinks he has to accept the public bashing because he cheated. Is there any way to get his side of the story out there? — A Friend
Dear A Friend: This is what friends are for. Feel free to refute the lies when the opportunities present themselves. But we caution you not to say unkind things about the Other Woman. Steve has his hands full, and there's no reason to make the woman more defensive and angry than she already is.
Dear Annie: This is in regard to the letter from "California," whose stepdaughter's children keep playing with their iPhones during dinner.
I had this problem with my sister. During dinner, she kept playing with her phone, so I snapped a photo of her with my iPhone and sent it to her with a text message: "Having a great time. Wish you were here!" She laughed and put her phone down, and we had a nice visit. — Iowa
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.