Saturday, February 1, 2014

Teen Selling Cigarettes To Kids Could See Jail Time If Caught

Dear Tazi:

This February my father would have been 60. I saw "would have been" because Dad died from cancer 20 years ago, when I was just a teenager. He left behind my Mom, me, and my two younger sisters, as well as his own parents and brothers and sisters. Even the family dog seemed to grieve him. Dad was a smoker from the time he was 18; he died of bladder cancer, which is a common cancer among smokers.

I am now a parent of two teenagers myself, and I have discovered that my elder child smokes. I went through the roof when I found this out, and demanded to know where he was getting cigarettes and who was selling them to him.When I found out it was an 18 year old who lives in the neighborhood, I reported him to the police. Because he was not caught in the act of buying cigarettes for minors the police could not do anything more than scare him straight by saying they would be watching him. Now my son is upset with me for dousing his connection. He hasn't told anyone it was me who called the police because he is afraid his peers will take it out on him, and he has told me I have ruined his life. I argue that I may have saved it.

My wife is upset because the kid buying cigarettes for our son is the child of one of her book club members. She would like to say something to her, but I argue that this will just stir up a hornet's nest. After all, the police did come to lecture the other woman's son and threatened to arrest him if he was caught practicing this criminal behavior. My wife has said that this woman does not believe her son was the culprit and that the police are trying to "frame" him and she feels that this woman is simply sticking her head in the sand; that by telling her that her child was breaking the law she can curb her son's immoral; behavior now before he steps it up and starts selling alcohol to minors in a few years.

What do you think, Tazi? Should we let sleeping dogs, er cars, lie? Or should my wife say something to her book club buddy?

Responsible Dad

Dear Responsible Dad:

My deepest condolences on the loss of your father at an early age. Such a loss has left its mark on you in many ways, and surely includes your disgust for cigarette smoking. Do your children know that this is how you lost your father? Whether they do or not, now may be the time to discuss your loss with them. They are old enough to understand not only how it affected you then, but how it affects you now as a parent who must see his children grow up without their grandfather and how you do not want to lose one of them to the dangers of smoking. It is difficult to drive a point home with teens, but try. They may be touched deeper than they let you know.

As for dealing with the neighbor's son: he is not your son to reprimand. The fact that this mother wants to stick her head in the sand may simply be a defense mechanism she uses in public because she is embarrassed by her son's behavior. To bring up such a subject at a book club meeting would be cruel. I say allow the matter to sit. Right now, it is not an elephant in the room. Unless it becomes one, MYOB.

The fact that the police have scared this young man straight with the threat of arrest for selling cigarettes to minors is wonderful, but may be fleeting. When this young man realizes that the police are not following him - and he is in need of the extra cash he was making by selling cigarettes at mark-up - he may start selling them again. If he starts selling to your child, approach the mother at that point and let her know what is going on and that you are handling things on your end and that she needs to handle things with her son - hopefully, before the police take notice.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.


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