Dear Straight Talk: My sister's boyfriend comes over almost every afternoon before our mom gets home and smokes cigarettes in our room. I hate the smoke but my sister says it's none of my business and that if I tell, I'll be sorry. She covers the smell by opening the window, running the fan, and spraying air freshener. I always leave the room, but I've heard the harm from second-hand smoke lingers. It's not right that I'm displaced from my own room and exposed to this. Our mom is completely opposed to smoking. If I rat on him, she will probably forbid him from coming over and maybe even break them up. I have to share a room with my sister. If I tell, she will make my life miserable. What can I do? - Smoked-Out
Maureen, 18: When I see my brother smoking in our house but don't want to confront him, I tell my mom and ask her not to tell him I told. That way, when she gets home, she can say with certainty that she smells smoke and deal with it without my involvement.
Ashley, 22: How rude. I'm a smoker and I would never smoke in someone else's house! Smoking inside is gross. Tell your mom and ask her not to tell that you told. Then she can just "smell" it or find a cigarette butt somewhere. This totally is your and your mom's business.
Scot, 23: It's best to try to get along. Tell the boyfriend that you like him and ask if he would smoke outside because it really bothers you. If he won't, you might mention to your mom that it always smells smoky upstairs.
Anjanette, 17: Ask your mom to check things in your room frequently. Get her to talk about the effects of second-hand smoke.
Brie, 19: I am extremely opposed to second-hand smoke because I have asthma and it agitates my lungs. Tell your sister she either has to stop letting him smoke in your room or you will inform your mom. Stand up for yourself.
Katelyn, 15: It definitely is your business. I'd tell your mom. Your sister is technically breaking the rules of the household - and she's harming you through exposure and threatening you. Tell your mom what to watch for if your sister tries to hide hassling you.
Gregg, 19: This guy is out to lunch. He gives teenagers a bad name. I used to smoke. Sometimes I smoked indoors at parties, but never otherwise. All my friends who smoke are very polite about smoking outside. Tell your mom! It's obvious that you're not breaking up true love or he wouldn't be so disrespectful.
Dear Smoked-Out: I have no sympathy for this behavior. You can't even smoke in an Irish pub or a Parisian coffee shop anymore. You're right about the very real toxicity of the residue remaining after the smoke has cleared. It's called "third-hand smoke." I admire Gregg's and Katelyn's approach to simply tell on your sister - but I know that Gregg's a star athlete and Katelyn is fearless. When you risk being bullied, a safer solution is to tell an authority figure (in this case your mom), while insisting your identity be protected. I, and other parents, wish kids did this more often. It's amazing how much can escape us, even things right under our noses. If you don't trust your mom to protect your identity, the next best thing is to give your sister a firm deadline to end the indoor smoking (say two to three days), or you will tell. Usually when you give fair warning like this, people will do what's right.
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