Dear Annie: For many years, I have heard about the dangers of secondhand smoke. I am a non-smoker, but was married to a smoker for 13 years and have asthma.
Now that pot is being legalized in some states, including where I live, what are the dangers of secondhand pot smoke? I haven't heard a word about it. Are the states just looking for additional tax revenue and keeping it out of the news? — Concerned Breather in Oregon
Dear Breather: According to the American Lung Association, inhaling smoke is harmful whether it's from cigarettes, pot or burning wood. Marijuana smoke contains many of the same toxins, irritants and carcinogens as tobacco smoke, and pot smokers generally inhale it for a longer period of time. Secondhand marijuana smoke contains the same ingredients.
How dangerous is it to non-smokers? A 2014 study found that blood-vessel function in lab rats dropped by 70 percent after 30 minutes of exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke and hadn't returned to normal even after 40 minutes. And the rats suffered the same effects even if the pot contained no THC. So, you might not get a "contact high," but with continued exposure, you could suffer impaired lung and blood-vessel function.
Marijuana is much stronger today than it was 40 years ago. More studies need to be done, obviously, but if you are regularly exposed to smoke of any kind, you are likely to develop a problem. Steer clear.
Dear Annie: I am responding to "B" about unsolicited phone calls. I recently fell victim to such a scam. I purchased a lifetime repair contract for my computer. A month later, I received a call saying they were going out of business and needed to return my money. I foolishly let them gain control of my computer, where they claim to have accidentally "deposited" an amount greater than what they owed me. They then said I needed to send a MoneyGram for the overpayment.
I had the person on my cellphone when I went to a MoneyGram location. The woman there told me to hang up and informed me that it was a scam. I then went to my bank and was able to protect my account. I also reported it to the police.
On my way to the bank, I received 17 calls from the scammer asking why I hadn't sent the money. The specialist at the bank told him to stop calling. It was too late to reverse the charges on my credit card for the original contract, but the bank canceled that card and issued a new one. Here is how I stopped these calls:
1. I blocked the numbers they were calling from on my cellphone and my home phone.
2. I set "call rejection" on my home phone so if anyone called from a "private" or "unknown" number, they would be required to unblock their number and call back.
I hope others learn from my experience. — A Lesson Well Learned
Dear Lesson: Thank you for sharing. We received a great many letters with examples of how these unscrupulous people work and will print more in future columns. Stay tuned.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of 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.