ASH Scotland argues that smokers should not be excluded when recruiting carers for needy children
Anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Scotland says it supports smokers being recruited as carers for children.
In a surprising move, the charity outlined its position in a paper released, it says to “stimulate discussion” over the issue.
The piece posted by ASH on its website says that instead of smokers being banned from becoming kinship and foster carers or prospective adoptive parents they should be encouraged to take their smoking outdoors or use e-cigarettes when that isn’t possible.
As a campaign group ASH promotes the health and social benefits of raising children in smoke-free environments, and was a prominent supporter of the recent Scottish Government campaign promoting smoke-free homes.
It has also made claims that young people who grow up in smoking households are more likely to do so themselves and has highlighted the position of adults as role models when it comes to smoking.
However, the paper states: “ASH Scotland does not believe that kinship carers, foster carers or prospective adoptive parents should be forced to quit smoking, rather we believe the focus should be on ensuring carers’ homes are completely smoke-free and supporting carers to achieve this.
“Policies should therefore avoid excluding all smokers from becoming kinship carers, foster carers or adoptive parents.”
ASH chief executive Sheila Duffy added: “As a society we have responsibility for children in the care system and so we should be concerned that so many of them are affected by smoking.
“Yet someone who smokes is as likely to be a good and suitable carer as anyone else, and should not be excluded simply because they smoke.
“The priority should instead be to support them to protect children in their care by making their home smoke-free.”
Speaking to TFN about ASH's position, a spokesperson for the Fostering Network, a national organisation which provides support to foster carers and campaigns on their behalf, said it largely supported the charity's viewpoint.
The network's opinion is that a foster carer who smokes is no less able to provide care, he said, but warned smoking should not be done inside the home.
The spokesman added: “Children will learn from and imitate their foster carers who, as significant adults in their lives, act as role models
“This doesn’t mean a blanket ban on all smokers becoming foster carers, but careful consideration should be given before the approval and matching of foster carers who smoke for children under five years, parent and child placements and children of any age if they have a known respiratory illness.
“In all cases foster carers must provide a smoke-free environment.”