Secondhand Smoke

By Doug Mayberry

February 11, 2019 4 min read

Q: New neighbors just moved into the house next door, and they seem very nice except for one major downside: They're both smokers.

They go outside to do it, into a garden that is separated from ours by only a low fence. I have been in remission from lung cancer for three years now and know that being around smokers is not a good thing. I really wish they'd never moved here.

What can I do to protect my health?

A: Be proactive — this problem is unlikely to solve itself. Your health is your priority.

Issues with neighbors are common. Have you ever heard the proverb "Good fences make good neighbors"? Sometimes cutting ourselves off from the outside seems like the only solution, but there are other ways.

If you haven't already, first bring it up with your new neighbors. This conversation may be awkward, but good communication can help solve a lot of problems in the least painful way possible.

When you chat with them, be polite and direct. Share your concerns, and emphasize that you aren't judging their choices (even if you are) but just trying to protect yourself.

It's unlikely that they'll stop smoking for you, but they may be willing to change their nascent habits. A good compromise may be to suggest another place for them — one that wouldn't expose you to the smoke.

As a backup measure, try to keep your windows closed, and avoid spending time in your yard while they're smoking.

Good luck finding a compromise with your neighbors! Sometimes, the idea of moving away is tempting, but remember that you might find the same problem in another house. — Doug


Q: I just got an invitation in the mail for the gender reveal party of the granddaughter of a lifetime friend. I had to look up what that means after getting the invitation!

The whole thing seems very strange to me, and I don't really get it. I've seen other new parents sharing very personal moments with everyone (including strangers) — like photos from the birth room and their infants' firsts.

Am I wrong to be so judgmental?

A: Like other cultural practices, norms about sharing depend on our perspectives. To you, these parties may be weird (as were some of your generation's actions to older generations).

But unless the oversharing is harmful, is there any point to bemoaning the change?

Only you can decide what to be judgmental about, but you also have to deal with the consequences of your attitude. Being too judgmental can isolate you from others.

Gender reveal parties are a product of many cultural changes, including different attitudes toward privacy, social media trends, parental competition, economic factors and a lower birth rate. It's too early to tell whether these parties are temporary or here to stay.

Regardless of the reasons for new types of celebrations, the basic point of celebrations is for the host to share their positive feelings with others.

If you go, prepare to be excited for the mom-to-be. Even if the event seems strange to you, a change in perspective may help you feel the emotional resonance and enjoy.

Adjusting to change is all about your attitude. Look for the positive sides of life! — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: at Pixabay

Like it? Share it!

  • 0

Dear Doug
About Doug Mayberry
Read More | RSS | Subscribe