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Smoking at dance school


Madmum
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Hi everyone, I have followed this forum for years and found the content to be invaluable, I don’t think this has been discussed before so here goes my first post, it’s unfortunately not a positive one.  My daughter started dance school (upper school) in September, it’s her first time living away from home and she has taken to it with no hesitations.  reports from the school have been glowing but I found out at Christmas that she had developed a smoking habit, I was livid when I found out and made it clear that I wouldn’t be funding her dreams of dancing professionally if she continued to smoke, she promised to quit.  I have since found out that she is still smoking, I feel so let down and I really don’t know what to do.  I have spoken to a couple of local teachers who don’t think it’s a big deal but I feel if she’s not 100% committed to a healthy lifestyle then she’s unlikely to make a career out of dance, am I overreacting? I am absolutely gutted 😢

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Hi, I would feel exactly the same smoking is a big no no for me and fortunately my dd feels more strongly than I do about it. However one of her former ballet teachers went to one of the big Ballet schools, this was probably 30 or so years ago and they were actively encouraged to smoke as an appetite suppressant, this was also in the days that they would weigh the pupils. I’m just wondering if that has anything to do with it, not necessarily encouraged by the school hopefully anymore but maybe just known that’s what it does. Just a thought, hopefully not . 

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This is apparently quite common - DD was at Vocational school some 10 years ago and it wasn't until years after she left that I found out she started smoking and still does.  I haven't really a leg to stand on as both my husband and I smoked as younger adults.  Planning on trying to conceive gave me the incentive to stop.  However, many theatrical people do smoke today.  What actually concerned me more was the alcohol consumption when out and about at the weekend.

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If I’m honest I have to say that smoking is a real pet hate of mine and I would also feel disappointed, let down and saddened. Unfortunately I’ve learned through experience ( 4 grown children) just how much this can happen as our offspring grow up and start to make their own choices which may not align with our values. 
overeacting? No. I’d be feeling similar. 
On a hiding to nothing? Probably. Your dd is experiencing certain freedoms for the first time and finding out more about who she wants to be. She isn’t doing this to hurt you or to spite you or because she doesn’t care about dance or a healthy lifestyle. There’s a lot of change in her world and new influences. If you want her to stop smoking she will need to figure that out for herself because (in the nicest possible way) she’s unlikely to do so because it’s what her mother tells her. Boy, this parenting lark is not for the faint hearted is it?! 
btw I’m sure there are plenty of professional dancers who smoke, not that it excuses it. Hopefully it’ll be a short lived experimentation. Virtual hugs 

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I personally and professionally have always discouraged my children from smoking. It says on the box what it does 😢From experience I feel that there is a lot more concerning behaviours going on at vocational school. Alcohol, self harm, class B/A drugs as well as the disorders of eating. If it’s the occasional cigarette, the normal kind, then that would be the least of my worries.  

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Hmm interesting. My one is still little and i hope I don't have to cross that bridge any time soon. I recently went to a parenting webinar 😂 (I know, I know) but found that it was quite useful.

 

Is this a hill you are prepared to die on? If not, you have registered your disapproval and disappointment strongly and leave her to work it out. She's old enough to make those decisions and is it something that you will let affect your relationship? I don't know how I would react if my children started smoking but I would hope that i won't let it affect my relationship I've built up with them over the years. Sorry, not very helpful. Good luck, it sounds super stressful x

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I remember walking past the Opera House a few years ago when the Bolshoi were in town and practically all the male dancers were outside having a smoke! Unfortunately I think it’s a popular way of keeping weight down. Do you think you could get her onto vapes or patches instead?

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She's a young woman making her own decisions. Her reports have been glowing. I think as parents we gradually have to accept that our children have the right to make their own decisions and our role is to support them, not micro-manage them.

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Hi Jan, thanks for the welcome 😀

Thanks everyone else for taking time to respond, it is interesting to hear everyone’s opinion/advice.
I feel she’s being a sheep but she has mentioned that some of the other kids feel it helps with weight, dd is luckily naturally slender so I don’t think that is a motivator, however, the school have weighed her recently but this was because they thought she had lost weight, it turned out that she was exactly the same weight as she was in September so it didn’t go any further. 
i do agree about the other things going on in school too, lots of heavy drinking, issues with eating etc, some other stuff that is quite shocking.  

I am also no stranger to letting kids make their own choices, I have an 18 year old who smokes (not in front of me but she but she knows I know) so I am all for them making their own mistakes etc.  
Maybe I am prone to micromanaging but I just don’t see the point in paying £16k plus per annum for her to disregard her fitness, she can come home and do dance at the local 6th form for free.  I read all the time about dance becoming so much more physical and dancers being expected to push their bodies harder than ever before, also that earlier generations of successful dancers wouldn’t make the cut in today’s market so to handicap yourself with a vice like smoking is just ridiculous to my mind, we all know how competitive dance is, they are expected to be athletes as well as artists, if she was a sprinter or a long distance runner I would feel the same way. 
i know my reaction is extreme but I really feel like bringing her home, I have always said I will give 100% if she does and smoking just doesn’t tell me she’s giving 100%, perhaps I will feel differently in the morning but right now I feel let down & upset.

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There is a lot of vaping in our little world!

 

It's a hard no for me.

My family are making significant sacrifices for our DD to study ballet.

I have told her that she has to be prepared to 'pay the price' to have what she wants.

It's always ok if she does not wish to continue.

 

Ballet is an art that requires the body of an athlete. 

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Not to do with dance schools but a friend and I were only discussing this afternoon that we have both seen reports recently that smoking is again on the increase amongst young people in general.  I don't know how they can afford it ... it would be cheaper to set fire to £5 notes!

 

I am very anti-smoking and it always shocks me when I see how many dancers smoke.

 

One of my closest friends has very bad COPD and she said not long ago that she knows it is her own fault because she didn't give up smoking when she was advised to.  I think that's dreadfully sad.

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I give my DD an allowance and if she was using it to fund a smoking habit I would not continue - she is aware of this.  We can't afford for her to smoke never mind it being unhealthy.

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I can empathise with all your feelings & situation...no idea if smoking has become a thing but I’m finding 6th Form a whole new world of asserting independence & (it feels) rebellion.... but as others on here say, it’s all part of growing up & maybe growing away from needing us mums quite so much 🙁 

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I don’t consider you to be ‘micro managing’ her, at the end of the day smoking is likely to affect her training and more than likely will permanently damage her lungs if she continues. If she was living independently and funding herself I suppose you couldn’t do much about it but I wouldn’t be funding it either.

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When our children start vocational school we have boundaries. They breach them, we set new ones. We do this because we love and support them and their dream. It’s the dream that is the problem. Once on this path it is so so difficult to get off. We have made so many excuses for our children’s behaviours and attempted to justify them. Our thinking and rationalisation becomes distorted. It’s only when you step back that you see it clearly. This process sadly takes years in some cases and leaves you with immense feelings of guilt for not upholding those original boundaries. Would you really bring them home at the first offence ? I surely wish we had x 

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Yes, cotes du rhone!  

I have allowed my daughter to breach so many important boundaries.  It has been negative for both of us as it leads to ongoing angry conversations and encourages her to continually push the limits  -to see if they actually exist!

 

One of my rules is that if DD does not hand in school work on time then she can not attend ballet until she catches up.  Finally, I enforced this.  It was fabulous.  It is so harmful on the relationship if you do not follow through.  

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I have known ballet company ADs who are very strongly anti-smoking if that helps. They couldn't do much to stop it, but they made their feelings about it very clear indeed. It was viewed as not having a good enough attitude/commitment towards your body and your job. I have never seen it encouraged actually, although apparently that was the case several decades ago.

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Our DS is just about to take up his place at Central School of Ballet following five years boarding at a lower school. 
He once told me that he had ‘tried’ vaping as many of the other students had tried it and indeed some of them were already smoking. 
I remained very calm, sat him down and explained that I understood his reasons for wanting to try it ……and that when I was young, I had experimented with it too -  but whilst he was under our roof and we were sacrificing a lot as a family for him to attend vocational school - I expected it to end there. I also told him that if I ever found out that he’d started smoking …… we would bring him home immediately and his vocational training would be over ……. no discussion, no second chance. Smoking for us is a boundary that you just don’t cross. 
 

Our DS had and thankfully survived one of the most aggressive cancers as a young child. We almost lost him on several occasions. Having cancer as a child unfortunately means you are statistically much more likely to have cancer again later on in life. This has been explained to him and that he must never smoke at all or drink alcohol to excess.

He still attends oncology check ups & this will continue for life. 
We explained that he would be slapping all the amazing consultants, doctors, nurses and us his parents in the face by smoking. 
 

We’ve just reinforced all of this again with him before he starts his life in London. 
No drugs, no smoking, no vaping, very controlled alcohol limits when his age allows drinking (as he lost a kidney)…… and we will always support him in every way possible. 
Break these rules ……our funding his training stops and he’s back home !! 
Once he reaches 18 - if he wants to roll the dice with cancer - then he can choose to do this - but we won’t fund it.

He knows we are serious and those are our boundaries. 
It may seem harsh to some of you and I can understand that  - but that’s our views as parents who have been ‘through the mill’ and shed a sea of tears during his fight back to health. x

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9 hours ago, Madmum said:

Hi Jan, thanks for the welcome 😀

Thanks everyone else for taking time to respond, it is interesting to hear everyone’s opinion/advice.
I feel she’s being a sheep but she has mentioned that some of the other kids feel it helps with weight, dd is luckily naturally slender so I don’t think that is a motivator, however, the school have weighed her recently but this was because they thought she had lost weight, it turned out that she was exactly the same weight as she was in September so it didn’t go any further. 
i do agree about the other things going on in school too, lots of heavy drinking, issues with eating etc, some other stuff that is quite shocking.  

I am also no stranger to letting kids make their own choices, I have an 18 year old who smokes (not in front of me but she but she knows I know) so I am all for them making their own mistakes etc.  
Maybe I am prone to micromanaging but I just don’t see the point in paying £16k plus per annum for her to disregard her fitness, she can come home and do dance at the local 6th form for free.  I read all the time about dance becoming so much more physical and dancers being expected to push their bodies harder than ever before, also that earlier generations of successful dancers wouldn’t make the cut in today’s market so to handicap yourself with a vice like smoking is just ridiculous to my mind, we all know how competitive dance is, they are expected to be athletes as well as artists, if she was a sprinter or a long distance runner I would feel the same way. 
i know my reaction is extreme but I really feel like bringing her home, I have always said I will give 100% if she does and smoking just doesn’t tell me she’s giving 100%, perhaps I will feel differently in the morning but right now I feel let down & upset.

All good points and this is far from easy. It's hard to separate the personal hurt/anger (this is my hard-earned money she's smoking away, this is a brilliant opportunity she's putting at risk, she has lied to me about this etc) from the ultimate aim (she wants to be a dancer and is doing very well; meanwhile she's trying something most teenagers try, this is part of the individuation process etc).  

 

I guess one significant question is: what would happen if she was forced to quit and come home? It may be that smoking would be the least of your worries then. 

 

Final thought: let the dust settle for a few days.

 

(Please be aware that these opinions are very much offered in a spirit of trying to help (we all have these worries about our children, I'm sure, and don't know how we'd react until it happens), not tell you what to do - just another perspective. 

 

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12 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

I can empathise with all your feelings & situation...no idea if smoking has become a thing but I’m finding 6th Form a whole new world of asserting independence & (it feels) rebellion.... but as others on here say, it’s all part of growing up & maybe growing away from needing us mums quite so much 🙁 

I hear you!

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I feel for you. Its a tough situation you find yourself in. Its especially not easy when your DD has lied to you as it is a double whammy of hurt.

 

I would ask you if she respects your wishes and does not smoke when she is home from school. If it just at school then hopefully she is just being a sheep as you put it, smoking with the others to fit in/be one of them. If that is the case, then hopefully it will be a passing term-time only phase. My DD never smoked but knows several who did start during their 3 years upper school training (or who already smoked) and very few of them continued after graduation as they went out into the real world.

 

You have made your feelings about smoking crystal clear to your DD. The dilemma you now have is if you follow through the threat of stopping the funding. To be honest, this is where you have to consider your feelings more so than perhaps your DDs. How would this make you feel, what would the consequences be for you and your family relationships as it will obviously affect more than just you and your DD.

 

Take your time before making any decisions, not just for your own peace of mind but also for it to register and really sink in with your DD just how much she has upset you - not just with the smoking and consequences for her health/not giving 100% but also for the deceit.

Good luck

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Madmum said:

Hi everyone, I have followed this forum for years and found the content to be invaluable, I don’t think this has been discussed before so here goes my first post, it’s unfortunately not a positive one.  My daughter started dance school (upper school) in September, it’s her first time living away from home and she has taken to it with no hesitations.  reports from the school have been glowing but I found out at Christmas that she had developed a smoking habit, I was livid when I found out and made it clear that I wouldn’t be funding her dreams of dancing professionally if she continued to smoke, she promised to quit.  I have since found out that she is still smoking, I feel so let down and I really don’t know what to do.  I have spoken to a couple of local teachers who don’t think it’s a big deal but I feel if she’s not 100% committed to a healthy lifestyle then she’s unlikely to make a career out of dance, am I overreacting? I am absolutely gutted 😢

I am sorry to hear about this. Maybe (not saying definitely) your daughter is trying to smoke to deal with stress or something else as a way of coping? If so then maybe she needs to be taught to use other coping skills and if there are things stressing her out too much maybe that can be dealt with too. And/or maybe (not saying definitely) your daughter was tempted (with or without peer pressure) to smoke and unfortunately gave into that temptation? I think one step to try to resolve this is to try to find out why your daughter started to smoke, however your daughter may not know exactly why and/or she may not want to tell you why yet and personally I think if she does not want to tell you why I think that is her right to privacy too.

 

Perhaps your daughter is unaware of the short-term and long-term effects smoking can have and if that is the case she needs to be made aware of how smoking can harm her.

 

Another thing is that smoking is bad for the environment and pollutes the air which is really not fair for anyone who has made the conscious choice not to smoke and if your daughter smokes around others secondhand smoke can harm other people too which would mean it is not just your daughter who may get harmed by her choice to smoke but also other people who may get harmed by her choice to smoke. Some people may have breathing difficulties, allergies and other medical conditions which may make secondhand smoke especially harmful to them, so the point I am making is that smoking does not just affect oneself but also others and it is truly very unfair to subject other people as well to harmful effects from secondhand smoke. Perhaps explain this to your daughter.

 

If your daughter has become addicted to smoking it may be stopping smoking may be challenging for your daughter however if she is motivated to stop I am sure stopping smoking is doable.

 

Also, according to Childline if you are in the UK and your daughter is under 18 she legally is not allowed to buy cigarettes in case you were unaware of this fact (I don't think anyone should smoke regardless of their age because doing so is harmful to oneself as well as other people).

 

As a parent the decision of what to do is up to you (of course within reason, for example though a parent's decision of how to guide their child is theirs there are some things no parents should do such as verbal, emotional or physical abuse or neglect), I think one thing to do is to first consider with your daughter (if your daughter is willing) what may have contributed towards her smoking habit and deal with those things, educate your daughter on the harmful effects of smoking on herself and other people, if she is motivated to stop smoking help her to do so, and maybe ask the upper school staff to restrict access to cigarettes if feasible (or if she comes home I think not letting her have access to cigarettes is reasonable).

 

I wish you and your daughter the best.

Edited by DancingtoDance
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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, cotes du rhone ! said:

When our children start vocational school we have boundaries. They breach them, we set new ones. We do this because we love and support them and their dream. It’s the dream that is the problem. Once on this path it is so so difficult to get off. We have made so many excuses for our children’s behaviours and attempted to justify them. Our thinking and rationalisation becomes distorted. It’s only when you step back that you see it clearly. This process sadly takes years in some cases and leaves you with immense feelings of guilt for not upholding those original boundaries. Would you really bring them home at the first offence ? I surely wish we had x 

Very astute observation that has really got me thinking.... trouble is, it does rather firmly & painfully point a finger at me as having been weak, indulgent & continuously on a guilt trip as to wether I’ve done things right or for the best...

Out of interest, do others feel lockdown & home schooling has exacerbated these ‘push the boundaries’ & rebellion issues? I feel they have all been stuck at home (& almost locked in when back at vocational school) with minimum social contact that once they have the opportunity it’s all far more exaggerated in trying to grab that ‘good time’ moment.

Also, as a parent of a DC boarding from age 10, I have over the years consciously tried to ensure any time at home (exeat/holidays) was relax time. It was ok to sleep in, to veg on the sofa in PJ’s the whole time, be rather slack at completing any schoolwork (didn’t even really pry that much as to wether they had any), to give any dance opportunities a miss unless they truly wanted to do them, stay up late, eat crap, be a phone addict (oh boy, was THAT ever my biggest error!) etc etc.

So of course, all those weeks that turned into months of time at home meant it was nigh on impossible to redefine the boundaries from pretty much zero to ‘this is a school day’ .

I cannot tell you how helpless I have felt in all this...

Edited by Peanut68
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My Dd gave 110%. She was the most dedicated, hard working student who didn’t smoke, drink vast quantities of alcohol, take drugs or participate in risky behaviours. She was very organised, controlled and passionate to the point of obsession. She didn’t bow to peer pressure and fell/got left behind. Perhaps this was the problem and why she secretly suffered from self doubt and anxiety towards the end 🤔Maybe if she had just been that bit rebellious and had the odd cigarette with her peers then her journey may have been less painful 😣 
I had a “normal” upbringing and was rebellious and pushed boundaries. Dd is now living “normal” and it gives me so much pleasure to watch her experience it 😃 I have Covid to thank for that. That’s the only thing I thank it for. Somewhere in her 8 years of vocational training she lost or never developed her identity, other than that of a ballet dancer. 
I read somewhere that some of the most successful ballet dancers were a nightmare at school. I’m not sure if it’s true, but if it is, it may be that they discovered a balance between dedication and fun and this helped them cope in the ballet world ? 

Smoking Kills, it says on the packet. Im not advocating it as a huge part of my work is Cardiac Rehab and smoking secession. But in the grand scheme of things the Ballet Bubble can be a suffocating place and I believe a little bit of rebellion is healthy ☺️

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16 hours ago, Peony said:

I don’t consider you to be ‘micro managing’ her, at the end of the day smoking is likely to affect her training and more than likely will permanently damage her lungs if she continues. If she was living independently and funding herself I suppose you couldn’t do much about it but I wouldn’t be funding it either.

And create additional lines around the mouth, coloured nails, constant smell of smoke on clothes, hair, room, litter, nicotine addiction, fire hazard depending on where they smoke or rather how they discard their ash the negative impact of smoking is endless besides the obvious damage to the lungs.  That’s before the subject of the actual cost of smoking. 🤑🤑
As you can probably gather I’m an anti smoker. I just don’t get it. 
 

It could be that dancers smoke to offset the hunger issues(potential weight gain). Before tackling the actual smoking there possibly needs to be deeper conversations to be had as to the root cause of taking up smoking in the first place.🙁

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Smoking kills. No career is worth dying for. I had cancer in my 20’s: it’s not fun. 

 

My children are still all in primary school but they already know that if I ever catch them smoking they will witness an anger they cannot imagine :) . Totally unacceptable I’m afraid. 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

 

Out of interest, do others feel lockdown & home schooling has exacerbated these ‘push the boundaries’ & rebellion issues? 

Oh yes indeed. I read your earlier comment Peanut about 6th form and thought crikey, we're getting all that at age 14! I think DD feels literally hemmed in. So much time for introspection and over-thinking and very few escape valves. Now I think she's fighting her way out. Thank heavens for dance.

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On 20/05/2021 at 01:05, Pirouette said:

I have known ballet company ADs who are very strongly anti-smoking if that helps. They couldn't do much to stop it, but they made their feelings about it very clear indeed. It was viewed as not having a good enough attitude/commitment towards your body and your job. I have never seen it encouraged actually, although apparently that was the case several decades ago.

 

Yes dancers used to be encouraged to smoke as a means of weight control but that was years ago.  Nowadays most UK ballet companies would almost certainly be opposed as the longer term health implications are so well known.  I asked one of my ballet teachers and he said that it would be frowned upon in the companies he danced with as being viewed as being cavalier with your body.  

 

I think it's probably worth checking with your DD why she's doing this.  Is she under pressure somehow?  Is she being bullied or feeling she wants to fit in?  I think it's worth a conversation. 

 

I also wonder if it's harder to see the consequences now fewer people smoke as a rule.  My godfather (whom I adored) was a 50 a day smoker and it killed him when I was a young child.  As a child I thought the smell was horrible.  I watched him get sicker and struggle for breath and yet he couldn't kick the habit.  Cigarettes smell like death to me because of it so I never felt the urge to want to try.  I think if you've not actually seen someone suffering the effects of smoking it's harder to believe what it does.  It's why I think the Yul Brynner advert that showed how ill he was is so effective and simple in the message.  Yul Brynner - Anti-Smoking Commercial - YouTube

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Posted (edited)

It so saddens me that still smoking & illicit drinking seems to be seen as a teenage ‘right of passage’....

I remember a 9 year old boy relative hassling his Dad to not smoke...yet the minute he was under peer pressure at school, there he was aged 15/16 smoking away!! Now aged 30....he’s swapped his cigarette addiction for vaping....it looks like he’s puffing on a catalytic convertor leaving a massive plume of smoke in his wake...and you know an added tracery? The 40someting Dad then re-took up smoking with his teen in what? An attempt to be ‘cool’??? Oh dear.....

As an aside....I do wonder the longterm consequences of putting water vapour (so water) with chemical flavours & scents in it into a pair of lungs... Isn’t that what drowning is caused by...water in lungs? 

And another thing that amazes me as not having heard been raised in discussions in these  covid times...the additional geographic spread of any virus by the excessive pushing out of exhaled breath that these devices seem to cause....I truly hate it when walking down the street you are suddenly plunged into a sickly smelling dense cloud of vape exhalation with no chance to avoid it. Seems accepted as ‘the lessor of 2 evils’. Well, for the converted ex smoker maybe but it’s so anti social & I wonder if also an enhancement to spreading of viruses of all kinds that can affect anyone innocent person in its wake... yuck. Especially worrying for babies & young children....as many are also high in nicotine, couid this not be leading to nicotine being inadvertently regularly inhaled by them? Mind boggles....

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