It Should Be Illegal for Parents to Smoke

K. Emily Bond

smoking in front of childrenSadly, there is no smoking ban of any sort where I live. It’s a foreign place, European, but even the French are on board. Aquí, not so much. The same is true of the 11 U.S. states without a statewide ban, including Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.


So while I wait for my local government to get serious about public health and for the locals to smarten up about the hazards of exhaling toxic fumes into our communal breathing space, I’d like to offer a suggestion ... how about extending that ban to parents?

J’deteste cigarette smoke, particularly around the lungs of toddlers and especially on the playground. Believe it or not, I routinely see parents pushing their 3-year-olds on swings while puffing away at their cigs. What, are we unpaid extras on the set of Mad Men? I just don’t get it. And when I see parents smoking in the front seat while their child secondhand smokes in the back, it makes me fuming mad. It’s nearly 2011, people. We don’t need a consumer warning to tell us that smoking kills.

second hand smoke danger   
Moreover, the Surgeon General has long warned, “Secondhand smoke causes premature death and disease in children.” Even more pressing, according to the CDC, “sixty percent of US children aged 3-11 years -- nearly 22 million young people -- are exposed to secondhand smoke.”

Parents. We’re the anti-drug, right? Why, then, are so many of us poisoning the air our children breathe?

Having been a smoker myself in a past life (skipping class in my Catholic school uniform, lighting up behind the rectory ... you get the idea), I understand how addictive smoking can be. It’s habitual, a way of life, a physical dependence. But once you become a parent, it would seem like a rather compulsory act of parental responsibility to toss the cancer sticks in the trash. Period.

Who knows? Where willpower fails, maybe a parental smoking ban will prevail.

What are your thoughts? Do you support the idea of a parental smoking ban?

Images via the Guardian UK and nicoretro/Flickr

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