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Smoking and Tobacco

My Mom and Smoking

03/16/2010

Question:

I’ve recently found out that my mother has been smoking secretly for a very long time. After some researching, I think this explained why she was always tired, coughing, getting wrinkles, and her weak heart, high blood pressure, asthma, leg numbness, skin rash, etc. Is this true?

Also, (if you can answer this), how do I tell her that I know about this and convince her to quit? I think that none of my other family members know about this. Should I tell them? I’m really worried about this and I love my mom, so I definitely don’t want her to continue smoking.

Answer:

Your mother being ill is certainly a concern.  Since you listed a number of physical symptoms, one would assume she is under the care of a physician and it would be good to be supportive of her having appropriate health care.  While some of the symptoms you identified may be associated with cigarette smoking, the skin rash would not be a common response to smoking. 

Talking with your mother about her health and what you might do to assist her might be a starting point.  Discussing what her physician has identified as risk factors for some of her symptoms could lead to the opportunity to discuss cigarette smoking as one of those risk factors.  Expressing how important she is to you and your family and that you would be supportive in her efforts to quit smoking may be an option.

There are a number of medications that have been effective in doubling or tripling the success rate of quitting smoking. Her physician can provide that information.  A nonjudgmental approach is key when discussing health behavior changes that are difficult. 

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Response by:

Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN Karen L Ahijevych, PhD, RN, FAAN
Professor Emeritus
College of Public Health
College of Nursing
The Ohio State University