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Man sues his wife to stop her smoking

Sally Thomas

'I don't want my wife to die from cigarettes'

August 21, 1997
Web posted at: 10:27 p.m. EDT (0227 GMT)

From Correspondent Ed Garsten

CHICAGO (CNN) -- Richard Thomas says he loves his wife so much he couldn't help himself: He had to sue her.

Sally Thomas is a smoker, and Richard is not, so he's going to court in an attempt to force her to stop.

"What I'm hoping is that the court will direct my wife to stop," he said. "Smoking is going to lead to irreparable harm. She'll incapacitate herself, or kill herself, which everyone who smokes does eventually."

Mrs. Thomas did not want to be interviewed for this story.

The Thomases have been married for 43 years, and he says the spark is still there. He proudly shows off pictures of Sally, the mother of his three children, and says, "She's a real babe."

vxtreme CNN's Ed Garsten reports.

A retired Army officer, Richard Thomas says his wife smokes only five or six cigarettes a day, and is in good health. Still, he fears that she will suffer the same fate as his mother.

"My mother, who was a heavy smoker, died when I was 13," he said. "That had a very bad effect upon me."

Christopher Helt, Richard's lawyer, filed a lawsuit in federal court Thursday. Helt contends that the suit is supported by the federal Clean Air Act, which forbids smoking in many public areas.


The suit's chances: less than zero

"It's illegal in certain public areas," Helt said. "I can't see why it can't be illegal in some private areas if the owner states he doesn't want that in his premises."

One legal expert says that while Richard Thomas' intentions appear to be sincere, and even noble, the chances of a judge granting an injunction are less than zero.

Kent Law School professor Stuart Deutsch says the clean air act covers pollution by factories and mobile sources, including internal combustion engines.

"I suppose you can make an argument that Mrs. Thomas is a mobile source because we all move around," Deutsch said. "But, in fact, I don't think she has an internal combustion engine."

Richard says that if he loses the case, he'll deal with it. He hopes, however, that by taking such drastic action he'll convince Sally to drop the habit for good.

"I don't want my wife to die because of cigarettes," he said emphatically.

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