Stepdad’s smoke permeates small apartment
DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: In the recent letter from “Smoked-Out,” about her sister’s boyfriend sneaking cigarettes in their bedroom, at least she has house no-smoking rules on her side. But what if it’s your parent or step-parent who smokes? Our stepdad is a very heavy smoker — and heavy drinker — and his smoke permeates our small apartment. My sister and I stick to our room with the door closed and window open as much as we can. It helps some, but not that much. His attitude is, “I pay the rent and I’ll smoke if I want. Anybody who doesn’t like it can leave!” He’s very domineering and our mom, who is financially dependent on him, is afraid to stand up to him. She has no job skills and says that even skilled people are having trouble getting jobs these days, so we’d end up homeless if he left. If anybody has any ideas for our situation, I’d love to hear them because the smoke really bothers us. — Marie, Santa Ana, Calif.
Editor’s Web Note: To all teens who smoke: Quit now. Not only is it easier when you’re young, but today’s letter could be written about you in a few short years. Do you think “Stepdad” ever saw this belligerent future for himself when he was your age? No, but it happens. I’ve had letters from gagging teens forced to dine together while a parent smokes at table. (Family values in action!) Tobacco is a great example of how addictions cause boorish behavior without the excuse of being “high” that alcohol and other drugs have. That’s how addiction works: whether the substance makes you high or not, when it needs to be “fed,” and can get away with it, it almost always cancels out doing what’s right. —Lauren