Smokers Beware: You May Be Branded a Child Abuser, and Lose Custody of Your Child or Foster Child

More than a year ago, a prominent physician and medical school professor drew a new line in the sand, and denounced cigarette smoking routinely around children as nothing less than child abuse. He urged the medical community to take bold action to stamp out the pediatric health crisis resulting from second-hand smoke.

Fast forward a year. The place is the conference of the International Society for Family Law. Where some leading family law attorneys have taken up the gauntlet.

They are advancing legislative proposals to

  • require emergency room doctors to report as child abusers parents of children in respiratory distress who are suspected of having smoked around their children
  • deny custody of children to parents who smoke around their children and remove custody of children from parents who smoke around their kids
  • ban foster parents from smoking around their foster children and
  • punish anyone for smoking in a car with children.

Sound harsh? Unreasonable?

According to the New York Times, more than 6,000 American children die annually as a result of their parents’ smoking, and still more children suffer more than five million serious diagnoses from it as well.

Even without new or different legislation, with the right evidence placed before the right judge about the right child with the right health issues, cigarette smoking certainly may be a consideration in both custody and timesharing rulings.

Read more in:

  1. this Science Daily News article: Repeated exposure of children to secondhand smoke is child abuse, expert argues
  2. this ValueWalk article: Smokers Should Lose Child Custody – Intl Family Law Conf.