Author Topic: Smoking around kids- need some advice  (Read 1356 times)

Millennialworkerbee

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Smoking around kids- need some advice
« on: January 12, 2018, 05:11:50 PM »
I've been trying to ignore a problem we've been having with my MIL and I really need some advice. The people on this forum are usually pretty level headed compared to some of the other mommy groups out there so I'm hoping you all can help.

My MIL watches our son for us while we work. She is also a pack a day smoker. We were very clear about some ground rules when she started watching him (wash hands after smoking, ideally have a smoking jacket to take on/off, at least 15 feet away when both outside and smoking, etc. these were largely based on pediatricians advice).

Well she has eventually let it all slide. Tonight she was hotboxing her car that my son was about to get into 5 minutes later.

I know what my answer is: we need a new daycare situation. This will DEVASTATE her, she "only lives for her grandson" (her words). But I feel it is my job to protect him and letting him be around that on a daily basis isn't protecting him.  My husbandwas raised in that environment so while he is a great parent, the smoking thing is normalized for him and he isn't as bothered by it.

I will be the mean DIL even though we will present it as a joint decision (and it will be). Just her personality- she doesn't get along with other women.

I guess I'm looking for sympathy, making sure I'm not overreacting, and similar experiences. It makes me sad because she is an awesome grandma, and my son adores her.

Gin1984

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 05:16:17 PM »
I've been trying to ignore a problem we've been having with my MIL and I really need some advice. The people on this forum are usually pretty level headed compared to some of the other mommy groups out there so I'm hoping you all can help.

My MIL watches our son for us while we work. She is also a pack a day smoker. We were very clear about some ground rules when she started watching him (wash hands after smoking, ideally have a smoking jacket to take on/off, at least 15 feet away when both outside and smoking, etc. these were largely based on pediatricians advice).

Well she has eventually let it all slide. Tonight she was hotboxing her car that my son was about to get into 5 minutes later.

I know what my answer is: we need a new daycare situation. This will DEVASTATE her, she "only lives for her grandson" (her words). But I feel it is my job to protect him and letting him be around that on a daily basis isn't protecting him.  My husbandwas raised in that environment so while he is a great parent, the smoking thing is normalized for him and he isn't as bothered by it.

I will be the mean DIL even though we will present it as a joint decision (and it will be). Just her personality- she doesn't get along with other women.

I guess I'm looking for sympathy, making sure I'm not overreacting, and similar experiences. It makes me sad because she is an awesome grandma, and my son adores her.
I'm with you.  I'd be finding a new daycare stat.  However, it takes a long time to do so, so I'd look before you tell her.

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wordnerd

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 05:41:07 PM »
Yeah, don't mess around with your kid's health. Find a new childcare situation and accept whatever damage to the relationship. My condolences.

lizzzi

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 06:01:25 PM »
Yes, with what we now know about the hazards of second-hand smoke, you cannot let her babysit your child if she is going to smoke. You'll have to find other daycare arrangements and let the chips fall. It isn't worth your child's health. It isn't as if you're just on a family visit and it's an occasional thing. (Not that that's OK either.) This can cause real harm to your child, and if the grandmother feels she has to smoke, you can't let her be the babysitter.

This isn't the 1950s anymore, when smoking was "cool" and nobody realized the dangers.

letired

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 06:08:43 PM »
You are doing the right thing.

Growing up, my best friend's father smoked indoors while she was young, though he later moved it outdoors he was never able to quit. My friends' chronic allergies and asthma are still a major health issue 30+ years later.

ToTheMoon

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 06:16:52 PM »
Wouldn't it be more helpful to simply TALK to your MIL before wrenching your child away from her?  Set your parameters, and make it very clear that any future infractions will result in him heading to the nearest daycare.

If you have already drawn the line in the sand and she has crossed it, fine, make other arrangements.  However, without speaking to her first you are asking for family discourse (and yes, you will definitely be viewed as the bad one.)


Gin1984

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 06:50:38 PM »
Wouldn't it be more helpful to simply TALK to your MIL before wrenching your child away from her?  Set your parameters, and make it very clear that any future infractions will result in him heading to the nearest daycare.

If you have already drawn the line in the sand and she has crossed it, fine, make other arrangements.  However, without speaking to her first you are asking for family discourse (and yes, you will definitely be viewed as the bad one.)
Daycares can have a year wait list, and they have already spoken to her.  She broke the agreement and I, personally, don't believe in giving second chances with my child's health.

ToTheMoon

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 07:35:40 PM »
Wouldn't it be more helpful to simply TALK to your MIL before wrenching your child away from her?  Set your parameters, and make it very clear that any future infractions will result in him heading to the nearest daycare.

If you have already drawn the line in the sand and she has crossed it, fine, make other arrangements.  However, without speaking to her first you are asking for family discourse (and yes, you will definitely be viewed as the bad one.)
Daycares can have a year wait list, and they have already spoken to her.  She broke the agreement and I, personally, don't believe in giving second chances with my child's health.

Then perhaps they need to put the child on a bunch of waitlists, AND talk to Grandma.  If Grandma just cannot help herself, then it is definitely time for some drastic action, and hopefully a spot will have come up somewhere. 

It makes me sad because she is an awesome grandma, and my son adores her.

For this reason alone, I think it is worth talking to her. 


HomeSweetLab

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2018, 02:09:02 AM »
This is a difficult situation. I understand that some elderly people are set in their ways, and simply won't give up their vices.

Have you talked to her about potentially switching to E-cigarettes? She get's the nicotine hit, but without the secondhand smoke problem for you child.

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2018, 05:43:43 AM »
Thanks for all the responses. This decision is going to change our relationship with them forever, which is why I have such concern about it.

We have addressed it several times in the moment (can you please wash your hands, go around the corner with that when you're outside, etc). We haven't sat down and said "we feel like you are majorly disregarding the boundaries we want". After a long talk last night, we agreed that my husband is going to have that talk tomorrow afternoon with her.

As far as an ultimatum, I'm not personally a fan, at least in this situation. For one, I just don't feel like it's a positive bargaining tool between adults. Second, we won't be able to pull my son immediately because of the waitlist a problem mentioned. Luckily we are alread.

Thanks for the suggestion about the ecigarettes, I hadn't thought about that before.

ubermom4

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2018, 07:18:18 AM »
Am sorry you are facing this with your MIL. It is a tough situation that is pretty clear. She loves her grandson but can't handle her addiction around him. You need to protect your son -- second hand smoke is very serious and could affect him his entire life. I agree with scoping out other day care options immediately and getting on waiting lists, if necessary. I think that DH speaking with his mom more  frequently about the smoking might help her to see the danger she is causing her beloved grandson. You do not want to be the one to talk to her about her nasty addiction. If your son is older, it might make MIL feel better to phrase the day care transition as one where your son is 'ready to socialize with other kids. It might also be easier for you to phase in his daycare starting with a couple of days each week -- daycare might have space for that. Good luck.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2018, 07:18:51 AM »
Wouldn't it be more helpful to simply TALK to your MIL before wrenching your child away from her?  Set your parameters, and make it very clear that any future infractions will result in him heading to the nearest daycare.

If you have already drawn the line in the sand and she has crossed it, fine, make other arrangements.  However, without speaking to her first you are asking for family discourse (and yes, you will definitely be viewed as the bad one.)
Daycares can have a year wait list, and they have already spoken to her.  She broke the agreement and I, personally, don't believe in giving second chances with my child's health.

Then perhaps they need to put the child on a bunch of waitlists, AND talk to Grandma.  If Grandma just cannot help herself, then it is definitely time for some drastic action, and hopefully a spot will have come up somewhere. 

It makes me sad because she is an awesome grandma, and my son adores her.

For this reason alone, I think it is worth talking to her.




If she is an awesome Grandma in all other aspects it might just be unhealthy to yank her out of the picture. Mentally vs Physically. At the very least I think she deserves a sit down and just have it be black and white!  Have her sign a contract so she knows its official and something she needs to look at the consequences if she doesn't follow them.
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DK82

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 09:23:09 AM »
She seems incredibly inconsiderate, to put it mildly.  When my mom comes to visit from out of state, she smokes significantly less than when she's at home, and when she does she goes outside and puts a coat on to take up the smell, then washes her hands immediately upon coming in.  Wish she'd quit, of course, but she's very mindful of not having any of that garbage smell around her grandchildren. 

GizmoTX

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 10:18:03 AM »
Before switching your child to daycare, I'd ask DH to have one last talk with his mother, telling her that will happen if there are any rules broken from now on. She should know that SHE is making the choice of smoking vs grandchild, and that rule breaking means she can't be trusted. Relatives don't get a pass.

I had to ask my mother to always smoke outside when she moved to our city (after decades of living in another state), citing health reasons. Smoke deposits on furnishings don't go away & smoke makes me sick. (I grew up in a fog -- both parents smoked 2+ packs/day.) We rarely went to her apartment due to the smell. Interestingly, she had already made the decision not to smoke in her new car since it would permanently lower its resale value. (She quit cold turkey the day she was diagnosed with lung cancer & emphysema, but died within a year.)

iowajes

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 11:03:06 AM »
I don't think you are over reacting at all. She clearly doesn't "live only for him" if she is exposing him to such an unhealthy environment.

I disagree with those who say talk to her first. You did that, when she started care. She ignored you and has endangers your sons health. I would find new care immediately.

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2018, 02:36:12 PM »
She seems incredibly inconsiderate, to put it mildly.  When my mom comes to visit from out of state, she smokes significantly less than when she's at home, and when she does she goes outside and puts a coat on to take up the smell, then washes her hands immediately upon coming in.  Wish she'd quit, of course, but she's very mindful of not having any of that garbage smell around her grandchildren.

This is a mild version of how I feel about it all. I just don't understand how you love someone, know the effects of secondhand smoke, and continue to do the things she does. But I am trying really hard to be empathetic and realize that there is addiction involved (not that it makes any of it ok, just that she isnt making these choices with the same mindset that non-addicts have).

Millennialworkerbee

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2018, 02:44:14 PM »
I should also add that the plan has always been to send our son to daycare when he is 2 which is the April/May timeframe. She doesn't know that yet, nor does she know that we are pregnant again. I think we could use the reason/excuse that he is "ready for school", but we will have no other reason why we wouldn't be asking her to watch the new baby.

And I also want to be very clear as to the reason (smoking) so there is no second guessing about my motives (since there will be resentment against me for this decision).

Luckily, my FIL is not a smoker and I know will understand our situation completely. He has been asking her to quit for 30 years. Maybe this will finally be the reason she will consider it.

Mrs.MLM

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2018, 07:31:18 PM »
I'm so sorry you are in this situation! It's going to be hard, painful, and uncomfortable, but as someone who grew up in a fog at both my house and my grandmother's house, I can say without a doubt you are doing the right thing. I had terrible sinus problems my whole childhood. (Back when there were smoking sections, I went to breakfast with my aunt and grandma who both smoked. I was on the inside of the booth and I waved the smoke away from my face. My aunt told me to stop being "rude." I was all of 8 years old.)

Also, this is about trust. You set boundaries and she ignored them, despite repeated reminders. You wouldn't let your children stay with any other care provider you couldn't trust.

Good luck!

BuildingmyFIRE

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2018, 08:35:21 AM »
I agree with the majority of posters here.  It is not worth the potential adverse impact on your son's health.  Even if she wears a jacket while smoking, she's almost certainly covered in particulate from the cigarettes, which he will be inhaling when he's around her and in her care.  You should get him into day care as soon as possible and not feel bad about it for one minute.  If she lives for him, she will take actions necessary to have him in her life, like get a prescription for the patches so she can quit.

Another risk that you haven't mentioned, but should be aware of, is property damage caused by your MIL's improper disposal of cigarettes.  I am aware of at least one situation in which a grandmother accidentally burned down her child's house while watching her grandchild, because her improperly disposed-of cigarette butt ignited the groundcover outside.  This is a real danger to your family if she is smoking on your property.

Smoking causes easily preventable dangers.  Your MIL should understand completely why you can't permit this situation to continue any longer.  Good luck (and best wishes for your new little one)!

FireHiker

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2018, 11:00:29 AM »
You are 100% right here. My siblings and I all have issues because of my dad's smoking in the car with us/exposure throughout our childhood. It is absolutely completely not worth risking your children's health! Could she chew nicotine gum or go e-cig as a last resort? I'm another voice saying is she really "lives for him" she will put her health first.

Domigab

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2018, 11:14:57 AM »
Do you think she would respond to you if you and your DH tried to re-establish the boundaries? Has she ever tried to quit before. My mother smoked for 40+ years and was able to quit with Chantix. She tried and failed many times when she used nicotine patches. As a parent you have to do what is best to keep your child safe and healthy. I think people who have an addiction minimize the effects their substance abuse has on others. They normalize it so they don't feel bad continuing it. Good luck.

NeonPegasus

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2018, 11:35:12 AM »
You're doing the right thing. My parents and grandparents smoked inside while I while I was growing up. Not only did it normalize smoking for me so that I started myself when I was 14, it caused terrible illnesses for me when I was a kid. I was always sick, always with chest colds. I see in my oldest daughter the same tendency towards chest colds but she is generally very healthy and rarely get sick. I think the reason why is that I quit smoking well before I had kids. She hasn't had her lung compromised by cigarettes they way I did as a kid.

Also, I have a burn mark on my stomach from where my grandmother dropped a hot cigarette ash on me accidentally while she was changing me. So there's that.

Anyway, back to your situation. Now we know that 3rd hand smoke causes health problems. While I wouldn't say that's a big enough reason to not be around her, it is a big enough reason to not allow her to watch your kid.

Maybe give her some info on 3rd hand smoke exposure and offer alternatives such as gum and other smoking cessation ideas. Quitting smoking was probably the hardest, most painful thing I've ever done. It took my dad years of chewing nicotine gum to finally whittle away at his addiction and quit. I thing nicotine gum may be the best middle ground as it would be a way for her to not smoke around your kids but not have to try to quit.

tyrannostache

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2018, 04:09:07 PM »
This will DEVASTATE her, she "only lives for her grandson" (her words). But I feel it is my job to protect him and letting him be around that on a daily basis isn't protecting him.  My husbandwas raised in that environment so while he is a great parent, the smoking thing is normalized for him and he isn't as bothered by it.

I will be the mean DIL even though we will present it as a joint decision (and it will be). Just her personality- she doesn't get along with other women.

I guess I'm looking for sympathy, making sure I'm not overreacting, and similar experiences. It makes me sad because she is an awesome grandma, and my son adores her.

As others have said, I think you absolutely must find other daycare. She's showing that she won't abide by the rules you set out. Secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke... the risks are real and well documented, aside from the risk of normalizing and even romanticizing smoking. And even if she does follow your rules and only smoke outside far away from the baby, who will watch the baby during the 5-10 times/day she has to step out for a smoke?

I know how hard it is to quit smoking. My DH (who was raised in a house where FIL smoked constantly) started smoking at age 15 and has quit several times. And since the birth of our kids--the stress of which, ironically, triggered his addiction again--he goes to extraordinary lengths to minimize any exposure they might have to his habit (smokes well away from the house, after smoking he always changes clothes, thoroughly washes hands and face, often showers, etc.). He just quit again, and we're really hoping it sticks. I think any smoker who wants to be around kids has the responsibility to minimize its impact on them.

It is 100% possible to have a loving grandparental relationship without her being his daycare provider. Finding alternate daycare doesn't mean she won't still be his favorite grandma. It just means she won't see him every day.

And maybe I'm in the minority here, but I think the dramatic "I only live for my grandson" statement is a problem all by itself. On the surface, it sounds really loving, but it gives me the heebies--kids aren't objects here to fulfill a grandparent's (or a parent's) needs. If she really is so dedicated to her grandchild, then she should be doing everything possible to protect him.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2018, 04:12:53 PM by tyrannostache »

wordnerd

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2018, 05:27:47 PM »
And maybe I'm in the minority here, but I think the dramatic "I only live for my grandson" statement is a problem all by itself. On the surface, it sounds really loving, but it gives me the heebies--kids aren't objects here to fulfill a grandparent's (or a parent's) needs. If she really is so dedicated to her grandchild, then she should be doing everything possible to protect him.

Agree. It reeks of emotional manipulation.

kanga1622

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2018, 05:59:56 PM »
Honestly, my kids wouldn’t have been in that home or vehicle in the first place so I don’t think you are overreacting.* You have the right to parent to the best of your abilities and this is within your ability to change. While I understand that she loves your child and is so excited to be a daily part of the family, she knew the rules were in place when she agreed to be your caregiver. Addiction is very hard to overcome but you need to put the long term health of your child ahead of Grandma’s feelings.

*Full disclosure: I am allergic to smoke so my kids couldn’t even be at a daycare with a wood stove or wood burning fireplace. I also am allergic to fragrance so candles and air fresheners are also out.

asauer

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2018, 06:25:54 AM »
Yes, new daycare situation.  You can't let guilt endanger your son.  Also, you are not responsible for your MIL's feelings.  You have no ability or accountability for them.  You can of course be kind when you deliver the news but do not apologize and do not give second chances.  I know from personal experience.

lexde

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2018, 06:38:13 AM »
Not a parent, but I think you’re right. Break it to her gently, but you don’t want your child around second hand smoke, AND you don’t want to normalize smoking. I didn’t find out my dad was a pack a day smoker until I was 12. Never saw him smoke a single cigarette in my life. I appreciate that, while it was a bit hypocritical.

So being a regular smoker and keeping it away from the kids can be done.

And unfortunately, people are more careful while they’re being watched. She may not be adhering  to the rules when you’re not watching.


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remizidae

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2018, 07:14:04 AM »
So you're considering taking on some $1000-2000 in daycare costs because your mother in law smokes? And MIL doesn't even smoke around the kid? I wouldn't do it. Realize she already probably thinks she's a hero for refraining from that. And realize that, as much as the risks of smoking were downplayed in the 50s, they are overplayed now. The evidence for health harms of secondhand smoking is very weak, and what evidence there is is limited to those who spend 8 hours+ per day around smoke, like bartenders or spouses of heavy smokers. There is no evidence that the kid will be harmed by occasionally being in a car that someone has smoked in, or by being touched by evil smoker hands. (If you'd like to read about the research, the book For Your Own Good is great.)

So I would ask, how much of your anxiety is coming from knowledge of the actual evidence, and how much is pure conforming to what you as a mother in 2018 are supposed to worry about? How much is your concern about what people will think if they knew your child is spending time with an evil smoker? It sounds like your husband isn't as worried, so can you take a lesson from him and trust that he loves his child just as much as you do?

Edit: I'm not a smoker, for the record, just a contrarian who cares about evidence more than conformity.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2018, 07:17:14 AM by remizidae »

lizzzi

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2018, 12:25:47 PM »
So you're considering taking on some $1000-2000 in daycare costs because your mother in law smokes? And MIL doesn't even smoke around the kid? I wouldn't do it. Realize she already probably thinks she's a hero for refraining from that. And realize that, as much as the risks of smoking were downplayed in the 50s, they are overplayed now. The evidence for health harms of secondhand smoking is very weak, and what evidence there is is limited to those who spend 8 hours+ per day around smoke, like bartenders or spouses of heavy smokers. There is no evidence that the kid will be harmed by occasionally being in a car that someone has smoked in, or by being touched by evil smoker hands. (If you'd like to read about the research, the book For Your Own Good is great.)

So I would ask, how much of your anxiety is coming from knowledge of the actual evidence, and how much is pure conforming to what you as a mother in 2018 are supposed to worry about? How much is your concern about what people will think if they knew your child is spending time with an evil smoker? It sounds like your husband isn't as worried, so can you take a lesson from him and trust that he loves his child just as much as you do?

Edit: I'm not a smoker, for the record, just a contrarian who cares about evidence more than conformity.

This is just so wrong.

tyrannostache

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Re: Smoking around kids- need some advice
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2018, 12:54:15 PM »
remizidae, I'm all for skepticism about the way scientific research is portrayed in the media and deployed in public policy. Certainly, the cancer risk of passive smoking has been overblown, and we could argue endlessly about the civil liberties question surrounding smoking bans. But that doesn't mean that having a baby around secondhand or even recent thirdhand smoke is safe. There is solid, well-supported evidence that passive smoking increases rates of asthma, respiratory infections, and other disease for children and babies. I have yet to see any evidence from a science-based source that secondhand smoke is NOT harmful.The "thirdhand smoke" issue is not clear, and it's something that researchers have only just begun to study.

As for For Your Own Good, this book is based on the assumption that antismoking initiatives are a misguided crusade. It's not an unbiased review of scientific research, and even if it were, it was published nearly 20 years ago. Hundreds of studies have been conducted since then, and our ability to process data has progressed by leaps and bounds.