Smoke gets in their eyes


Following Scotland, Redbridge council aims to ban smokers from becoming foster carers, to protect children from the effects of passive smoking. The cabinet of Redbridge council, east London, meets today to rule on the proposed ban that would come into force in January 2010.

Michael Stark, cabinet member for children's services argues that "Unlike adults, children have little choice about whether or not to be in a smoky environment so I hope the cabinet will take the decision to limit the harmful effects this drug can have on them."

True, but no child has a choice to be born into their situation. In a world in which the demand for unwanted children is not met by the number adults prepared to care for them, cutting out a vast section of potential foster carers based upon their enjoyment of tobacco will prove a costly mistake.

Given the understandable scarcity of people willing to make the epic commitment of becoming a foster parent, one has to question placing the importance of whether the adult smokes ahead of other qualities. Lest it not be forgotten: “Smoking only kills you if you stick the cigarette in your own mouth. To pretend otherwise is mumbo-jumbo".

Although inspired by an impulse to protect, if Redbridge council go ahead with the ban it would cause untold harm to many vulnerable future children.

UPDATE: The ban was enforced: nothing less than a disgrace.