Secondhand Smoke is Child Abuse, Says Medical Expert

A prominent medical professional is calling for the law to further protect children's health from the risks of secondhand smoke, including appealing to Social Services.

The states of Texas, Vermont, and Washington already prohibit foster parents from smoking around their children at home and in cars. A prominent medical professional is now calling for the law to further protect children's health from the risks of secondhand smoke, including appealing to Social Services if parents are unresponsive to anti-smoking overtures. 


Dr. Adam Goldstein, director of the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine's Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program, has observed firsthand that children have no voice when it comes to protecting themselves from the dangers of secondhand smoke, which contains dozens of harmful carcinogens and is documented to decrease lung function. 

At the Annals of Family Medicine, Dr. Goldstein explains how repeatedly treating a child of heavy smokers for symptoms of asthma, and finally pneumonia, led him to the conclusion that medical professionals should appeal to the state in cases where parents willfully ignore professional medical advice intended to help their children.

"At least 10 times over three years, we counseled the family to quit smoking around the 5-year-old patient and her 7-year-old sister, as the kids repeatedly came to the clinic for ear infections, coughing, bronchitis, and asthma. Two months after a recent visit, the younger child developed pneumonia..."

Smoking tobacco in the presence of children is analogous to cases involving drunk driving, domestic abuse, and giving drugs to minors, says Goldstein. Just as these behaviors underwent a paradigm shift in our understanding of the harm they cause, so too must our view of secondhand smoke. Goldstein offers up the federal definition of child abuse to make his case:

"Federal law defines child abuse as 'any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.'"

Surely our general outlook on smoking has radically changed in the last 60 years, moving from a symbol of freedom and glamour to one of ill health, poverty, and willful ignorance. How far our protections go will depend on legislatures' willingness to restrict what was once a widely recognized freedom.

Read more at Science Daily.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Radical theory says our Universe sits on an inflating bubble in an extra dimension

Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.

Getty Images/Suvendu Giri
Surprising Science
  • A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the Universe.
  • The researchers think our Universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
  • All matter in the Universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Why I wear my life on my skin

For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.

Top Video Splash
  • In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
  • This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and things that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
  • Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way.".