Libertarian Chris Tame opines recently that prohibiting smokers from adopting or fostering children is anti-liberty, wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. Just a few years ago, as a libertarian myself, I would have agreed with him, but not today.
Today it is a known, established, documented and widely accepted scientific fact that smoking makes people sick and too often makes them sick to death.
Never-the-less, as a libertarian, I still do agree that individuals own themselves and therefore have the right to smoke as long as they can do so without subjecting other individuals to the stinking unhealthy consequences of the habit.
“In both the US and Europe, anti-smoking activists are increasingly describing smoking as a form of child abuse that should be prohibited,” Tame observes. So adoption and fostering organizations are proposing a ban on allowing smokers to adopt of foster kids.
He is appalled at this “threat to civil liberties” posed by “political correctness” imposed by the Nanny State.
Tame claims that the evidence suggesting that environmental tobacco smoke can be harmful to non-smokers is “junk science.” Then he suggests that the pro-health proposals to ban smokers from adopting or fostering kids amount to “anti-working class” measures.
He admits that: “working-class children are all at risk, and always have been, through their less generally safe environment and through alleged working-class values (such as immediate rather than “deferred gratification).”
“So, if safety is such a big issue,” he posits, “why stop with smokers? Why not forbid adoption and fostering by anybody who is working class? After all, working-class health, working-class education, working-class life expectancy, working-class life in general is, statistically speaking, less good than life for the middle and upper classes. Once you concede that environmentally unsuitable parents may not adopt, where does it stop? Why should “inappropriate” adults even be allowed to have children at all?”
Why indeed! If any parents, whether working class or not, provide a substantially unhealthy and harmful environment for their children they risk the possibility of termination of parental rights. Thus, alcoholics, drug addicts, abusers and the like who subject their children to real risks of harm can rightfully lose their rights to parent them. That’s the law everywhere. Working class has nothing to do with it.
In my own case, I’m ashamed to admit that I began smoking during my early teens largely due to the influence of my middle class parents, grandparents and just about every other adult around me from every social class at the time.
It seems that almost everyone smoked during the late 1940’s, ‘50’s and 60’s while I was growing up. Humphrey Bogart did it. Edward R. Murrow did it. All the sophisticated people did it. It sure seemed cool. Smoking infused the entire American culture then; you saw it constantly in movies; on television; restaurants; theaters; trains; buses; airplanes; everywhere.
My dad tried hard to discourage me from smoking to no avail. Of course, he and everyone else knew full well even then, well before the scientific evidence confirmed it, that smoking is bad, very bad, especially for kids. Thankfully, the culture of smoking is slowly changing, but in my opinion not fast enough.
I was hooked on smoking for many years even though I witnessed both my grandfathers dying of lung cancer due to heavy smoking. My father died at an early age of heart disease brought on by, among other bad things, heavy smoking. Since then, smokers in America have been dying early deaths like flies.
It was inevitable, I suppose, that even after I had quit smoking altogether for 10 years, I now suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) brought about from the years of smoking. Yet I consider myself one of the lucky ones so far. It could have been cancer.
Today when I am exposed to second hand environmental “passive” smoke, the stinking clouds of the poison make me physically sick. So don’t try to tell me that secondhand smoke isn’t harmful.
Maybe I’m selfish, but I hope the day comes very soon when people aren’t allowed to smoke anywhere in public. Better still, I hope that all the smokers of today come to finally realize as I have that smoking is a health hazard, a killer and it’s time to quit now. It won’t happen in my lifetime but someday no one on Earth in their right mind will smoke tobacco just like no one today knowingly ingests lead.
Smokers deserve and should rightfully be relegated to the social status of pariahs.
There is no right to adopt or foster kids. So if smokers today want to adopt or foster children I don’t think it’s too much to require them to either quit the habit altogether or at the very least never practice it in proximity with kids.