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Where there’s smoke …

Dear Annie: We are the future. It may sound cheesy, but that’s the motto I live by, and it’s one of the reasons I believe so strongly in the need to prevent and reduce tobacco use among teens and kids. My passion for tobacco-use prevention started when I saw the harm that tobacco use caused my older sister. She started smoking at age 13 and ended up with an addiction that spiraled out of control, in many ways taking her childhood with it.

Every year, tobacco kills more than 400,000 Americans, and the vast majority started smoking as children. Kids are overwhelmed with pressure to smoke, from tobacco industry marketing, their peers, movies and other sources. But we have the power within ourselves to win the fight against tobacco, and I am proud to advocate for policies proven to reduce tobacco use and save lives. To learn more about tobacco-use prevention and to see how you can be a part of the efforts of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, please tell your readers to visit www.tobaccofreekids.org.

— Gabe Glissmeyer, age 19, Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Gabe: Thank you for writing and giving us the opportunity to tell our readers about the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The cigarette companies do an excellent job of recruiting new smokers. It’s time for the rest of us to do our part to keep that in check.

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Dear Annie: I have a speech problem that makes my voice sound hoarse and gravelly, and although people can understand me, some ask, “Where are you from?” (They think I sound like Henry Kissinger.) I usually answer with the name of a local working-class neighborhood where people sound a bit rougher, and sometimes that shuts them up. But more often, they persist in commenting on my “accent.” I find this incredibly rude.

Isn’t it wrong to question people like this? It’s none of their business why I sound this way. My city has a diverse population, and it’s not unusual to hear foreigners. I wouldn’t dream of asking them about their place of origin.

The questions are starting to get to me. I was talking on my cellphone on the street, and some guy stopped and asked where I was from. I said “none of your business” and walked away. This guy was horrified by my rudeness. Maybe this is the best thing to say. Any other ideas?

— Native New Yorker

Dear New Yorker: You could make up an unlikely response (“I’m from Canada”), but although the question is rude, we don’t think it’s intentionally so. You are sensitive about your voice, but people are curious, and you sound interesting to them. They mistakenly believe they are being friendly. You are not obligated to provide personal information. You can simply respond, “Why do you need to know?” or “I’m sorry, but I don’t like to talk about it,” and keep moving.

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Dear Annie: I feel for “Lost in the Country,” who has been married 36 years and recently learned that her husband was calling another woman. My wife also will sympathize with her.

I was that man. Not only was I calling other women, but I was having sex with them, as well. I also looked at Internet porn. My wife finally caught me and asked me to leave. She guided me toward Sexaholics Anonymous. I totally gave myself to this 12-step program of recovery. SA saved my life and put me on a spiritual path to God.

I hurt my wife and children and caused harm to those I was involved with. I cannot make it up completely, but I can continue to make amends wherever possible. My advice to “Lost” is to trust her instincts. Hold him accountable. If he responds with anger, he is hiding something. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

— Into the Light

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

Special to The Enterprise

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