Smoker contact can be awkward

BY CARRIE COPPERNOLL Modified: April 6, 2010 at 6:03 am •  Published: April 6, 2010
The brunette in sunglasses pulled a cigarette away from her mouth, exhaled and asked in a raspy voice, "Can I touch your baby’s toes?”

"OK,” I said.

As usual, I panicked in an awkward situation and ended up saying the exact opposite of what I was thinking. Good thing she didn’t ask, "Can I have your wallet?” or "Do you want to buy me lunch?”

She used her nonsmoking hand to tickle my daughter’s feet while we stood outside a store. Of course, my kid just smiled and cooed.

Letting some smoking stranger near wasn’t as bad as taking my daughter into a bar, but I still felt weird about her being around smoke. My husband and I aren’t smokers, and few of our friends are. I wasn’t ready for this lady, whose voice sounded like she might hack up something onto my daughter’s hat.

Keeping children away from smoke can reduce colds, ear infections and doctor visits. They’ll be less likely to get asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia, according to the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.

There’s no need to go overboard. The woman who wanted to touch my daughter’s feet was just being nice. I didn’t need to shout, "My God woman! No! You are a horrible person for wanting to interact with a smiling baby!” I could have said, "No, but thank you.”

But because I say the opposite of what I really mean, I probably would say, "Yes, please!” again.

Types of smoke

• Firsthand:

Inhaling directly while smoking.

Second-hand: Inhaling indirectly while around


Third-hand: Small particles and gases given off by smoke that sticks to walls, furniture, carpet, clothing, hair and skin. It can be swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Source: Oklahoma City-County Health Department.

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