I grew up a smoker; before I even finished elementary school I could inhale 10 cigarettes in an hour. Shocking isn’t it? I did not smoke by choice; both of my parents were smokers and could each put away a pack a day. According to statistics in a recent Live Strong article, children that spend an hour in a smoky room can inhale toxins equivalent to 10 cigarettes.
As I grew up and learned the dangers of secondhand smoke, I would leave the room when they lit up. Sadly this was not an option when we took a car ride somewhere; then I was trapped.
The dangers of secondhand smoke are widely known: 69 chemicals in cigarette smoke are known to cause cancer. Secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer in non-smokers; it has also been associated with heart disease in adults, sudden infant death and asthma attacks in children.
It’s probably no surprise that I am not a smoker. I was never tempted to light up and my husband is the same way. I was adamant my children would not be exposed to the dangers of secondhand smoke like I was. So far it has been easy to achieve this; none of our friends smoke and my mom quit so I don’t have to ask her to step outside when she comes to visit.
Over the last decade many states have banned smoking in public places. As a parent, I was thrilled when Connecticut followed suit knowing I could now bring my kids out to eat in a restaurant without fear of the diners at the next table lighting up.
Recently, though, one of my kids has been making new friends and one girl has parents who smoke. My daughter went to her house once and her parents pretty much chain-smoked in the house the whole time she was there. The dilemma for me is how do I tactfully turn down further invitations to the girl’s house? So far I have made excuses and had the girl come visit at our house, but I am going to run out of excuses soon.
I know I am not the only one with this problem. I had a conversation with a friend recently and she had insisted that when her son went to the smoker’s house, they play outside in the yard. I have teenagers so they don’t “play outside” any more so her solution was great for her, not so much for me!
What suggestions do you have for me to breach the subject with these parents?