View Poll Results: Are parents who expose their children to cigarette smoke guilty of Child Abuse?

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  • yes

    7 70.00%
  • no

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Thread: Is second-hand smoke Child Abuse?

  1. #1
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    Question Is second-hand smoke Child Abuse?

    Are parents who expose their children to cigarette smoke guilty of child abuse?

    Calling smoking in the presence of infants and children "the most prevalent yet least reported form of child abuse," Banzhaf said that deliberately exposing minors to a substance which doubles their risk of contracting lung cancer -- and may cause them to go into respiratory distress -- is inexcusable, and that doctors can no longer stand idly by while their young patients are "literally being poisoned by their parents."

    WHAT COURTS HAVE DONE

    Courts have now recognized that parental smoking may be a deciding factor in custody disputes, and have issued orders prohibiting parental smoking in the presence of children.

    In one case a judge even ordered a child removed from a home where parental smoking threatened the child's health, and both mother and father refused to modify their smoking behavior.

    Another indication of how far courts may be willing to go to protect children from harmful parental habits is the growing number of situations in which they have ordered the incarceration of pregnant women who use illicit drugs, or permitted the women to be prosecuted as criminals.

    Asking courts to deal with parents who smoke in the presence of their children should be far less contro- versial, suggests Banzhaf, for at least three reasons.

    First, he says, court-imposed restrictions on smoking in the pres- ence of a child apply equally to both sexes, unlike the incarcerations or prosecutions which only impact women.

    Second, a child is a "person" who is clearly entitled to the full protection of the laws, whereas the legal interests of a fetus -- which in many cases may lawfully be aborted -- are generally less than those of its mother.

    Third, and most importantly Banzhaf claims, is that a court can simply order a parent to smoke in a garage or porch, or even in another room, whereas forcing a female addict to cease using illicit drugs is far more difficult and more intrusive.

    Indeed, says Banzhaf, in the overwhelming majority of cases in which parents are told that smoking in the presence of a child may have to be reported as child abuse, they are likely to take the simple step of simply agreeing to do it elsewhere.

    Otherwise, they would risk having the doctor learn from a spouse, older sibling, or even the child himself that smoking was continuing to aggravate the child's medical condition, or from a routine blood test which detected elevated levels of carbon monoxide or nicotine's breakdown products.

    In cases where parental smoking in the presence of a child with serious asthma or other breathing problems can literally endanger the minor's life by triggering respiratory distress, a doctor has a clear obligation to his young patient to report the situation to the authorities, says Banzhaf.

    "Where a child has had to be rushed by ambulance repeatedly when parental smoking triggered an asthmatic attack and prevented him from breathing, and the parents refuse to heed the doctor's warnings and continue smoking next to the child, a physician's moral, professional, and legal obligations are clear," he says.

    Even in situations where immediate physical harm cannot yet be detected, physicians may nevertheless be justified in reporting their suspicions for evaluation by the authorities, says Banzhaf.

    Noting a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine proving that parental smoking can literally double a child's risk of eventually contracting lung cancer, he suggests that forcing a child to bear those risks constitutes "maltreatment."

    After all, he says, if a doctor found out that a child was being needlessly exposed to significant levels of asbestos, benzene, radioactive particles or other proven carcinogens at home, he would certainly be justified in taking action before a malignancy was detected, and tobacco smoke contains all of those substances as well as thirty other chemicals known to cause cancer.

    Calling smoking in the presence of infants and children "the most prevalent yet least reported form of child abuse," Banzhaf said that deliberately exposing minors to a substance which doubles their risk of contracting lung cancer -- and may cause them to go into respiratory distress -- is inexcusable, and that doctors can no longer stand idly by while their young patients are "literally being poisoned by their parents."

    Parents may be investigated as child abusers if they smoke in the presence of their infants or young children, especially if the minors have asthma, hay fever, allergies, or other conditions making them especially sensitive to secondhand tobacco smoke, suggested ASH Executive Director John Banzhaf

    In many cases where a parent continues smoking in the presence of a young child, there will be another spouse, or unrelated adult, or an older child living in the home, and therefore in a position to report and document the action. Where there is not, a simple blood, urine, or saliva test for the breakdown product of nicotine would provide conclusive proof that the child was being exposed to high levels of tobacco smoke.

    http://www.totse.com/en/law/high_pro...ses/abuse.html
    Last edited by Athelas; 11-28-2002 at 09:03 AM.
    Cats in Immediate Need of a home Abington, PA SPCA. Please Adopt.

  2. #2
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    IMO, it is. There is no doubt that smoking is damaging to your health, and to do so anywhere near children is to expose them to a substance that has been proven to kill people.
    If you do something that puts the life of children in danger, then that is Child-abuse.
    "Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men."
    - Martin Luther King, Jr.



  3. #3
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    Aug 2001
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    Way to go, Banzhaf (I'll call him Banzai!). We need more people like that to make up the minds of smokers when it comes to other people. Of course, as far as smokers go, that is infringing on their right to poison the environment as well as themselves.

    Oh, wait a minute...That's right, I forgot that second hand smoking DOESN'T cause lung cancer in others, and that most of these chemicals like formaldehyde, anti-freeze, and tar are overblown by the media. At least this is what alot of smokers would say. They have to justify the most stupid and disgusting habit known to man somehow. They won't admit that they are addicted.."No really, I CAN quit, I just don't WANT to quit!" Which makes them even more stupid considering what it is they are doing to their body with chemicals that most people put on masks and gloves to handle.

    Give them the ultimatum for the kids, then take them away should they continue to be so stupid and selfish.

  4. #4
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    Er... I am not american, so I wondered when I read this thread: what happens to the kids when they are taken out of their homes? Where do they go? This is very important for me if I am to agree with what you said. By the way, I don't smoke, never did.

  5. #5
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    any type of smoking is abusive no matter who its to!

  6. #6
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    True

    Originally posted by Celebthôl
    any type of smoking is abusive no matter who its to!
    I guess Smokers could be said to be masters of self abuse as well as denial.
    Cats in Immediate Need of a home Abington, PA SPCA. Please Adopt.

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