Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m a regular reader of your column for teens, but I hope you won’t be upset to know that I am over 30. (I won’t tell you how many years I’m over, but your vivid imagination can probably guess.) I’m aware that you are always encouraging your young readers to stop smoking and to avoid cigarettes like they are the plague. I have been a pack-a-day smoker for many years, and I must be honest, I have enjoyed every puff of every cigarette that I’ve ever smoked. Sometimes, I’ve even considered my pack of smokes my best friend. But what I’m about to tell you now will make you very happy.

I’ve been smoke-free for over two months, and now I’m just getting over the intense cravings to light up. So far, I’m positive that I buried my former best friend. I quit smoking not because of health reasons or secondhand smoke or hurting others or the risk of burning down my house by being careless or because my clothes and my mouth smelled like a fireplace.

No, I quit smoking 20 times a day, 365 days a year because my “best friend” became too darn expensive! The cost of cigarettes has gotten entirely out of hand and made me decide to quit smoking and save all of that money I have been literally burning up for years.

The next time you preach to teens to quit smoking don’t forget to mention all of the money a pack-a-day smoker can save in a year if they quit smoking. I now chew gum whenever I think about smoking. Even after buying gum, I save over $2,000 a year, and you can bet I won’t let that money go up in smoke!

— Smokeless in Seattle

Dear Smokeless: Congratulations on your success! My readers and I very much appreciate your firsthand story and your excellent suggestion. There are indeed several valid reasons to quit smoking — an already very nasty, unhealthy habit — and saving money definitely belongs on that list.

Dear Dr. Wallace: I’m an adopted child, and a few months ago, I found out who my birth dad is. It turns out I have siblings, too. We are now connecting on Facebook, but I didn’t tell my adoptive mother about this. She has since found out, and she called my birth dad and told him that I was not to be talking to him.

I love my mother, but I don’t want to wait much longer to have a relationship with my dad and birth family. Can you give me advice on how to approach my mother and convince her to allow me to do this? I’m 16 and feel I should be allowed to see them.

— Adopted and Found, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Dear Adopted: Saying that you love your mother signifies to me that she has done a marvelous job taking care of your needs as you were growing up. I understand your desire to have a relationship with your birth father and your siblings. I suggest that you discuss your feelings in depth with your mother and see if a mutual agreement can be arranged so that you could include your birth father in your life (moderately, at this time) with her blessing. At this point, getting her blessing is the key, and you need to respect and understand this. Your mother may also further explain any objections she may have so that you better understand the overall situation. Of course, I do not know all of the details of your particular situation, but I am certain that you should come to an agreement with your mother before you do anything further.

If your mother is adamant that she does not want you to contact your father again at this time, you should honor her wish for now. In time, your mother may change her mind, and if she doesn’t, you’re free to contact your father and your siblings when you’ve reached the age of 18. That day will be here sooner than you think!

Write to Dr. Wallace at rwallace@galesburg.net.