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Chicago man sues smoking wife under Clean Air Act

August 29, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ A retired Army officer is fed up with his wife’s smoking. So he’s suing her.

Retired Col. Richard J. Thomas filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court here Aug. 21, asking a judge to declare the smoke from his wife Sally’s cigarettes a cancer-causing pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act.

But environmental tobacco smoke is not regulated by the Clean Air Act, said Phillipa Cannon of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chicago office.

Thomas, 69, quit smoking 12 years ago. He blames cigarettes for the deaths of both of his parents, and says he has tried any number of strategies to get his wife of 43 years to quit.

``He feels that not only is she killing herself, but she is killing him,″ said Thomas’ attorney, Christopher Helt.

Thomas says he filed the lawsuit because he loves his wife.

``I love my wife dearly,″ he said. ``She’s a great mother. She’s a wonderful companion. We’ve been together for so long she’s the other half of me. I don’t want to lose the other half.″

Mrs. Thomas has refused to talk about her husband’s lawsuit, but Thomas acknowledged that she was not happy about it.

Helt said Thursday that the lawsuit hasn’t hurt the marriage.

``They get along except for this,″ he said. ``I don’t think she cooks for him any more, probably just cold soup.″

Helt said Thomas will drop the lawsuit if his wife stops smoking.

``It’s too bad because I’d like to see this issue resolved by the courts,″ he said.

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