Scotland - smokers will be banned from fostering or adopting children, comments from Professor Banzhaf..


February 16, 2010 - Smokers will be banned from fostering or adopting children, under new rules introduced by Midlothian Council, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK). Anyone wanting to care for a child under the age of five will be required not to have smoked for at least six months. The policy will also apply to all children with a disability or respiratory problems such as asthma. All children over five years old will also be given the choice to be placed with a non-smoking family. Council workers will be offering foster carers and prospective adopters help to quit smoking. Colin Anderson, the council's director of social work, said the change would only result in the loss of one foster carer. He said: "It is a balanced approach. We would hope to encourage all carers to stop smoking, but to come in with a blanket approach would impact drastically on the provision we have."

John Banzhaf, founder and Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) reminds us, "This is just the latest step in a growing movement to protect the most vulnerable and most defenseless victims of tobacco smoke pollution. Noting that there are many reasons supporting the prohibition on adoption by prospective parents who smoke, even if only outdoors.

For similar reasons judges in more than half our states in the USA, and a few
in foreign countries, have recognized that smoking around children can be not only dangerous but deadly, and have ruled that smoking around a child can be grounds for losing custody. In some situations, parents have been prohibited from smoking 24 or even 48 hours before a child is due to arrive in the home because of the lingering effects of tobacco smoke.

Similarly, more than a dozen states have ruled -- or are in the process of issuing rules -- prohibiting smoking in the presence of foster children, and several states and cities have banned smoking in cars when any children are present.

"Smoking kills thousands of children every year (largely from respiratory infections), is also a major factor in SIDS, and causes millions of medical problems in kids each year ranging from asthmatic attacks (and new cases of asthma) to ear aches, so protecting young children from tobacco smoke is long overdue," says Banzhaf.

"A growing number of people consider smoking around children to be the most prevalent and dangerous form of child abuse, so it is not surprising that an adoption agency would want to protect their wards to whom they owe both a legal (fiduciary) duty and a moral obligation."

In a situation where a smoker seeking to adopt claims that he or she does not smoke in the home, there may be no way to independently confirm that, or to make sure that there are never any exceptions -- e.g., when the weather is very cold, when the smoker is too ill to go outdoors, etc. For more comments from Professor Banzhaf such as the dangers of third-hand smoke for children read the second reference below in its entirety.

Banning smoking when children are in the home or car is a no-brainer - even Philip Morris agrees.

Reference: Smokers face adoption and fostering ban, Edinburgh Evening News, 2/16/2010; Smokers Banned From Adopting or Fostering Children There Are Many Reasons For Such Bans, PR-Inside.com, 2/19/2010.

Related news brief: Wales council imposes blanket ban on smokers adopting or fostering children..;

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