Dad Smokes a Pack and a Half a Day!

By Dr. Robert Wallace

August 21, 2019 4 min read

DR. WALLACE: My father smokes about a pack and a half of cigarettes every day, and this scares me. It seems he always has a cigarette in between his lips or in his hand. Our family loves him very much, and we don't want to lose him to something related to smoking. He's only in his early 40s, but with the way he's going through cigarettes, his face is looking a bit weathered: He actually looks 50 or older.

Please, give me a little ammunition I can use to convince him to stop smoking or at least think about it, if I present my case to him in a nonaccusatory manner. — Worried About Dad, Peoria, Illinois

WORRIED ABOUT DAD: The data on the dangers of cigarettes is quite well-known these days in 2019, but I'm happy to give you some information to consider. Your father likely knows all too well about the dangers of continual, long-term smoking, but he so far has been unable to quit.

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,700 compounds, 43 of which are known carcinogens. That's why the Environmental Protection Agency includes secondhand smoke on its list of human lung carcinogens, along with asbestos, radon and benzene.

Smoking can cause cancer of the lung, mouth, larynx, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney and ureter, in addition to uterine, cervical and bladder cancers.

Smoking can also result in cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, sudden death, heart attacks, peripheral vascular disease and aortic aneurysms.

So we have many scary things here that you could bring up to your father. However, I think a better tact to take here might be to check around your local community to find a few former smokers who successfully found a way to quit. Ask them their advice for your father and find out how they were able to overcome their addictions. Perhaps one of them might even be willing to mentor your father, IF Dad would be open to the idea of speaking sincerely to a former smoker who is open to helping him. At least you can try, and your father will see during this process just how much you love him and value his presence.


DR. WALLACE: I really get upset when I read your column blasting teens for smoking pot. You make it sound like smoking pot is the same thing as shooting heroin or meth. In reality, smoking pot should be equated to having a drink of alcohol. I also would appreciate it if you would stop putting down pot smokers. Most of us older teens are law-abiding people who enjoy relaxing with an occasional marijuana cigarette ... or two. A puff or two is like a drink or two, no? Many adults have a drink or two after a hard day of work. Why should our situation be any different? — Proud Cannabis Puffer, via email

PROUD PUFFER: I agree that smoking a marijuana cigarette is more in line with consuming alcohol than using heroin or crystal meth, but I am also opposed to alcohol consumption by teens at any time, anywhere, regardless of the situation and the age of the teen. The very same goes for marijuana when it comes to teens, in my opinion: I remain staunchly against it.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: geralt at Pixabay

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