DR. WALLACE: My mom, my dad and my grandma (who lives with us) are addicted to tobacco. One good thing is that they respect my request that they don't smoke in our house. But once in a while, grandmother will open the window and blow smoke outside. All three of them say they wish they had never started, but they still puff away every day. It's quite sad, actually.
I urge them to stop smoking, and they have all said that they want to stop smoking and have tried to. But trying isn't good enough; they are all three still at it. I'm afraid that if I don't convince them pretty soon to stop smoking forever, I could lose one of them — or even all of them — just when I would need them most. They each smoke at least a pack of cigarettes daily. That's gross!
I do love them very much and want them to live for many more years. Any tips that you can provide for encouraging my family to be smoke-free will be appreciated. — Very Concerned, Philadelphia
VERY CONCERNED: You can start by showing Mom, Dad and Grandma this column. They should be touched that you care about them and love and need them very much.
Next, contact the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society (check the phone book for the local addresses) for free booklets on the health hazards of smoking and how to quit this highly addictive and expensive habit. Next, share the booklets with your family. Twice a week, select an appropriate pamphlet and spend half an hour or so with them reading and discussing the material, especially when it's tips for quitting.
As you probably discovered, pleading, begging and nagging a smoker to quit just doesn't work. It takes a smoker's total commitment to overcome nicotine. But it can be done! After a few of these family "quit-smoking" sessions, hopefully your mom, dad and grandmother will do a lot of serious thinking about giving up tobacco.
According to the Canadian Lung Association, over 77 percent of all smokers wish they didn't have a smoking habit. The growing ranks of ex-smokers come from this huge majority, and it's encouraging that your family members are among them. Contact me again in a few weeks to let me know how things are progressing.
And put stop smoking challenge into dollars and cents. Cigarettes in your state, including all of the taxes, cost about $6.85 a pack, so your family is spending over $20 per day on cigarettes, $143 per week and over $600 every month. That's a lot of money to go up in smoke!
In states such as New York, the state taxes on cigarettes are quite heavy. The average pack of 20 cigarettes in New York is $12.85! There are many more positive uses for the money spent on such an unhealthy habit.
BROTHER AND FRIENDS OUT OF CONTROL
DR. WALLACE: I caught my 16-year-old brother and two of his friends stealing alcohol out of my dad's liquor cabinet. He was surprised because he thought I was at a friend's house. Our parents both have full-time jobs and have no idea my brother and his friends were helping themselves to dad's well-stocked alcohol cabinet.
My brother made me promise not to squeal on him, and he said that he would never steal dad's "hooch" again.
Yesterday, I came home from school and caught my brother's friends and his girlfriend enjoying "cocktails" while my brother was "making out" with his girlfriend on the couch. At least my brother was not drinking this time.
As soon as I came into the house, they all cleaned up the evidence and took off in a hurry. What should I do now? — Disapproving Sister, Galesburg, Illinois
DISAPPROVING SISTER: Your brother and his friends are out of control. Inform your parents about what's happening to dad's liquor cabinet and allow them to take the necessary actions to eliminate your brother's unacceptable behavior. Your brother was quite fortunate in the first place to receive a "pass" from you on his initial transgression. He has subsequently broken his word and the trust be'TWEEN the two of you on this matter.
Now, it should be out of your hands. It's time for your parents to weigh in on your brother's behavior.
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 www.creators.com.