Have a question for our experts? This line is open until Friday, October 1st. Barbara will then answer a few questions and we’ll post her answers right here and on the forums.

FBarbaraQ: How can I help a loved one to quit smoking?

A:If they are not yet ready to quit, just acquire information and literature concerning programs and treatment options and have them available. If they express an interest in quitting (In anonymous surveys, 4 out of 5 smokers report they want to quit), have a discussion with them about what they need from you. Let your smoker know: that you want them around longer, healthier and happier; that you will not remind them of past attempts; that you will offer only positive encouragement; that you will be available for walks and talks; that you are willing to tolerate temporary irritability. You might present the smoker a “Gift of Life” certificate, i.e. a local treatment program for which you are willing to pay, along with any medications that might be needed. Just listen for cues and be ready to respond.

Q: What are the dangers of second-hand smoke after the smoke is gone (ie, being in a car that is consistently smoked in, even though they do not smoke while others are in the car)?

A:There has recently been a term coined called “third-hand smoke.” This is that smoke that lingers on surface areas. Cigarette smoke contains gases and small particles that are deposited on all contact surfaces- carpets, draperies, upholstery, skin. The nicotine residue, when combined with nitrous oxide emitted from gas appliances and vehicles, can potentially be cancer causing. And it is generally infants and small children who are closest to this residue. Much of this information is coming from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California.

Q: I want to quit but am afraid of weight gain. How does smoking affect metabolism and is there anything I can do about it?

A:There is usually a moderate weight gain when a smoker quits that is less than 10 pounds. That is no reason not to quit. The health benefits of quitting far surpass the effect of the moderate weight gain.

To keep the weight gain negligible or reasonable, eat more fruits and vegetables and add walking and/or a workout to your weekly routine. There are some of the smoking cessation medications that delay weight gain. This has been found with buproprion and some of the nicotine replacement products.