ASK AMY: Secret vaping leaves neighbors in awe

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Dear Amy: For more than 15 years, we have lived next to our wonderful neighbours.

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We are great friends with the parents and have been blessed to watch their three children grow up.

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We count all five of them as one family. All of their children, now teenagers, are good children and good students.

Over a year ago we noticed that one of the teenagers started vaping. We strongly suspect that the parents are unaware.

Our homes are close enough that we can see this youngster vaping most nights after dinner in one of their upstairs bathrooms (while leaving the shade open).

Now that the days are shorter, it’s even easier to see as this kid turns on the light in the bathroom, opens a window, vapes and blows out the smoke.

We know from personal experience what smoking can lead to and we know that today’s flavored vaping products are designed to appeal to children.

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We also know that both parents are 100% anti-tobacco.

We are torn about whether we should tell the parents about it, thus exposing this youngster (who trusts and respects us); or asking that child to lower the shade every night (in which case the child will know that we know what’s going on), which might prompt them to quit.

Our own adult children (in their thirties), at home on Thanksgiving, reported that they had noticed this teenager vaping and were appalled. Our adult child (whom this teenager worships) wondered if he should talk to the teenager, but ultimately didn’t.

What do you think we should do?

– Worried friends or nosy neighbours?

Dear Concerned Neighbours: Surely you are not so far removed from your own experience (when your children were teenagers) that you have forgotten how important “the village” was in raising them?

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Parents – especially close friends and neighbors – rely on each other to report children. It’s part of the deal. Underage drinking, sneaking off to a party, cutting school (been there, parenting through it all) — these are all examples of teenage behavior that warrant a thoughtful, non-judgmental, parent-to-parent relationship.

You’ve been watching this vaping for over a year.

Talking directly to the teen would force them to vape in the basement or across the house, the parents would never find out, the teen would continue to vape and probably avoid you for the next decade as well.

Nicotine is addictive and the purchase and possession of nicotine products is illegal before the age of 18. (Note that this youngster could vape any number of nicotine-free products.)

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Talk to the parents, once, and let them decide what to do. Even if they respond to you defensively, this is something they need to know.


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Dear Amy: Our community training center provides showers and changing rooms for our pool. We have a small family locker room, but most young people enter the men’s or women’s locker rooms.

A woman insists on walking naked around the shower and locker room. She even stands naked in front of the mirror while she dries her hair.

Some of our exercise class members have stopped using the locker room just to not meet this free spirit.

Is there a way to politely get him to cover up?

– seen too much

Dear Seen Too: You can check with your establishment’s management to see if they offer any guidelines or restrictions regarding nudity in locker rooms (most likely, they don’t).

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If parents do not want their children to be exposed to (understandable) adult nudity, they should always use the family locker room.

You might try approaching this woman and asking, « Would you mind wearing a towel when the kids are around? » – but be prepared for her to refuse.

One issue that all locker room users should be aware of is the possibility that anyone can be surreptitiously filmed changing (or not changing).

Dear Amy: I’ve worked in many county clerks’ offices, and I’ve seen these bubbly young couples come in to apply for their marriage license.

In my heart, I wished them luck, but I also wanted them to see how these feelings can be superficial, and really getting to know your partner on a deep level is extremely important.

It should be a law that no marriage license be issued until the parties have spent at least six hours as observers in divorce court.

– Tom in Springfield, Ill.

Dear Tom: I appreciate your innovative idea.

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