Wales council imposes blanket ban on smokers adopting or fostering children..

July 29, 2009 - A Merthyr Tydfil council (governing body for Merthyr Tydfil, one of the Principal Areas of Wales) has become the first in Wales to impose a blanket ban on smokers adopting or fostering children.

Anti-smoking campaigners last night welcomed the move by Merthyr Tydfil council, but critics have pointed out there are already not enough foster parents in Wales.

They fear the changes might discourage potential carers from coming forward and could jeopardize the future of children already in the care of smokers.

Increasing numbers of local authorities, including Cardiff and Pembrokeshire, have banned smokers from fostering children under five but this is the nation’s first blanket no-smoking rule for foster carers and adopters.

Roslyn Rees, head of operational children’s services at Merthyr Tydfil council, said: “The health, safety and well-being of children and young people are at the heart of policies and practice related to children. We acknowledge that expecting all foster carers who currently smoke to give up immediately is not realistic and that it would be detrimental to remove children from stable foster homes because their carer smokes.”

Anti-smoking campaign group Ash Wales said the move was a step in the right direction. A spokesman said: “Children who are exposed to second-hand smoke are at serious risk of pneumonia, bronchitis, headaches and ear infections. Exposure to second-hand smoke has also been linked to the development and worsening of asthma in children.

“Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke because their lungs and airways are small and their immune systems immature. Being exposed to second-hand smoke during childhood may also increase the chance of developing chronic constructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cancer as adults.

“It is however vital that in addition to protecting children from exposure to tobacco smoke, that smokers themselves are supported to quit. In introducing this measure we would urge the local authority to ensure that foster careers are given help and advice on how to quit smoking and how to take the necessary steps to make their home smoke free.”

Other related: Study targets smoking in foster homes, Lynn Bonner - Staff Writer, Raliegh News & Observer, 6/4/2008; No Smoking for Pennsylvania Foster Parent.

Reference: Smokers banned by Welsh council from adopting or fostering children by Clare Hutchinson, Western Mail,, 7/25/2009.