Dr. Wallace:

I don’t smoke, but I did a research paper for my health science class on who smokes cigarettes and why they smoke. I interviewed 50 adults. 26 of them smoked and 24 did not smoke. All of the smokers said they smoked to relax and relieve tension.

When I started the survey I thought that because of the high cost of cigarettes that the low income people wouldn’t smoke much while the high income professionals would have a higher percentage of smokers.

My research proved my theory wrong. A very high percentage of low-income people (even some on welfare) found money to smoke while the high income people had a very low percentage of smokers.

I don’t know what to make of these startling findings, but I thought you might enjoy my information.

— Dave, Erie, Pa.

Dave: Thanks for sharing the findings of your survey. It could be that those with higher incomes have more formal training and education and are aware of the health hazards of smoking.

It is also interesting to note that the American Lung Association reports that the percentage of addicted smokers is on the decrease. Part of the reason for this is the high cost of cigarettes. Some municipalities have increased the tobacco tax to slow down the sales of cigarettes.

Dr. Wallace: Margo and I have been friends since kindergarten. We did everything together, including double dating when we started to get interested in boys.

When I started dating Phil, Margo was dating Eddie, we all became good friends. We went out together at least once a week until Phil and I decided to end our steady relationship because he was going away to college and I was still in high school.

Then about two weeks ago Margo and Eddie had a fight and broke up because Eddie thought Margo was too possessive and demanding. He wanted his space.

Eddie called me last week and asked me out. At first I said I didn’t think it would be a good idea, but when I spoke to Margo to see what she thought, she said it was fine with her. So I went out with Eddie, but he just wasn’t my type and we won’t be going out again.

I called Margo and was going to let her know I wouldn’t be dating Eddie again, but her mom said Margo didn’t want to be friends anymore and told me not to call her again.

It’s too late now, but I realize dating my best friend’s ex-boyfriend was not a good idea and I should have trusted my first instinct and said no. I’ll do my best to salvage the friendship, but believe me, I have learned a hard lesson.

I want to warn any girls who are thinking about dating their best friend’s ex to resist the temptation. Even if your best friend says it’s OK with her, it really isn’t, so DON’T DO IT!

— Peggy,

San Diego, Calif.

Peggy: Loving and breaking up are complex emotional acts, often defying our more “rational” selves. Your friendship with Margo is long and deep, and I suspect when enough time passes she’ll let go of her anger and forgive you. She did, after all, give you permission to go out with Eddie, not realizing until afterwards how much it would hurt her. You seem determined to hold the friendship together and I’m sure eventually you will succeed.

You are not alone. Many girls write to me telling me their regrets about the same situation. Girls, please heed Karen’s hard-earned advice. Don’t go out with a best friend’s ex.

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