Smoking As Child Abuse: From the Car to the Home

A Sacramento Bee story about California's new ban on smoking in vehicles carrying minors quotes John Banzhaf, founder and executive director of Action on Smoking and Health, who wants the ban extended into smokers' homes. "Smoking, like other activities, should be confined to consenting adults in private," he says. Banzhaf elaborates in a press release he sent me today:

The nonsmokers' rights movement, which has largely worked to protect adults from exposure even in areas like bars or restaurants where they have a free choice, is now moving to protect the most innocent and helpless victims of tobacco smoke pollution who have no choice at all....A man's home may be his castle, but that doesn't mean he is free to abuse his children inside it by unnecessarily subjecting them to a substance which is known to cause cancer, and which kills thousands of children every year.

Since it seems likely that smoking in bars and restaurants will soon be prohibited throughout the country, I guess Banzhaf thinks it's safe to admit that all those nonsmokers he and his allies supposedly have been trying to protect from "involuntary" exposure to secondhand smoke in fact have "a free choice" about whether to enter an establishment where smoking is permitted. He's right that children do not have the same choice about whether to live with parents who smoke. But contrary to Banzhaf's implication, epidemiological studies generally do not find an association between childhood exposure to secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Instead they indicate higher incidences of earaches and respiratory infections among children of smokers. When I interviewed Banzhaf for my 1998 book about the anti-smoking movement, he suggested that such risks do not by themselves justify government intervention. "Where a parent knows that the child is sensitive to [tobacco smoke], where the child has exhibited serious symptoms from it in the past," he said, "then it seems to me that in some situations some intervention is warranted." Nowadays he is less tentative. "Increasingly," he notes with approval in today's press release, "smoking around children is seen as just another form of child abuse."

For her part, the author of California's car smoking ban, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), denies any intention to target smokers in their homes. "This is America, for goodness sake," she tells the Bee. "I'm not into prohibition." When I debated this subject with Oropeza last week on KPCC, the NPR station in Pasadena, she said it made sense to focus on smoking in cars because, unlike smoking in homes, it's "highly visible." That rationale suggests the law is not about protecting children so much as protecting the sensibilities of people who are offended by the sight of Mom lighting up on the way to dropping the kids off at shool.

In a column last fall, I suggested that child protection would be the rationale for broadening bans on smoking in private residences. More on smoking as child abuse herehere, here, and here.

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  • ||

    Some people will go to great lengths to make you live life their way.

  • Bingo||

    Wasn't there a study done just recently that showed protecting your kid from everything under the sun increases said kid's chance of dying from something that would otherwise be a very minor illness?

  • ||

    There's something disgusting about comparing the situation of a child who is severely beaten or molested to the situation of one whose mother smokes. A pity that Banzhaf can't figure that out.

  • ||

    Nope. No such thing as a slippery slope. Must have been something libertarians made up out of whole cloth. We're such alarmists, you know.

  • ||

    There's something disgusting about comparing the situation of a child who is severely beaten or molested to the situation of one whose mother smokes. A pity that Banzhaf can't figure that out.

    But, but, but ... it's for the the children.
    Bottoms up!

  • ||

    Nope. No such thing as a slippery slope.

    We just want no-smoking sections in restaurants. Promise. Cross our hearts and hope to die. After that we'll go away and stop bothering you. We're reasonable folks. We don't want to control your lives. Can't you see that? You guys are paranoid.

  • ||

    How about if we trade tobacco for weed? Weed doesn't cause cancer so it would be safe for the kiddies right?

  • ||

    Next up, once they reach 18 kids will sue their parents who smoked, didn't give them a good education, didn't help instill table manners, embarassed them in front of their peers, bought them geeky clothes, etc. etc.

  • ||

    Banzhaf wants to rid the world of the (nonexistent) harm caused by tobacco. This means worldwide prohibition.

  • ||

    J sub D,

    Let's keep it rolling...

    "We'll never pull anyone over for not wearing their seatbelt. We'll just gently remind if they are pulled over for another offense."

  • The Owner\'s Manual||

    I will defend your right to blow smoke in the baby's face. Do not attempt to blow smoke in my baby's face, however.

  • ||

    SugarFre,

    Gladly.

    Besides, it's not a prtimary enforcement law. It'll only apply to "the children" (have another) under 16. Revenue enhancement? God you're insane. That isn't how law enforcement works.

  • ||

    Wife and I agreed to only smoke after sex.

    I haven't had a ciggy in 2 and a half months.



    she's up to a pack a day.

    bdoomp pssshhhhhh

  • ||

    Doc Siegel started a new organization today: http://www.tobaccocontrolintegrity.com/id3.html

  • ||

    "We're not trying to take away anyone's guns. We just want them registered... like cars."

  • ||

    For her part, the author of California's car smoking ban, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), denies any intention to target smokers in their homes. "This is America, for goodness sake," she tells the Bee. "I'm not into prohibition."

    "But other legislators are. They can count on my vote."

  • Episiarch||

    Hey fatties who don't like smoke and supported smoking bans...see what's in store for you, assholes?

  • ||

    Here's one we could try out on California. Since overexposure to the sun can lead to cancer, and since exposing your child to the potential of cancer is child abuse, no parents will be allowed to take their children to the beach, or anywhere outside for that matter.

  • ||

    Hey with any luck everyone in the country will quit smoking and buying cigs legally and they won't get one fucking dime of taxes to support all their bullshit socialist programs that are supposed to be "for the children". Greedy jive ass motherfucking scumbags that they are.

  • ||

    If the tobacco is that Got damned bad they should just outlaw it and stop taking the evil
    money from taxes. buncha fookin pussies.

  • ||

    Seth,
    AMEN ta that

  • ||

    My vices are for my children's benefit. The fact that they are all still alive is a testament to the value of smoking, drinking, gambling and whatnot.

  • ||

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=506219&in_page_id=1770

    This article is about England but it just as easily could apply to the US. Yeah, we may be more free to sodomize with our neighbors and watch dirty movies than we used to be but in most ways we are a hell of a lot less free than we used to be.

  • ||

    brotherben,

    If the tobacco is that Got damned bad they should just outlaw it and stop taking the evil
    money from taxes. buncha fookin pussies.


    Isn't this really just the problems you are having with your wife coming to the surface? You need to deal with your displaced anger over her adultery directly. It is the only way to heal yourself and your relationship.

  • ||

    James Ard,

    Alabama just passed a constitutional amendment against whatnot.

  • ||

    For her part, the author of California's car smoking ban, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), denies any intention to target smokers in their homes.

    Show of hands from those who believe her?

    Anyone?

  • Peter||

    I'm not sure where I read it, but I recall a saying to the effect that a society will often support the greatest atrocities imaginable in the name of children's welfare.

  • ||

    James Ard,

    No Gambling is allowed unless it is in the state sponsored numbers rackets. Gambling anywhere else, like the internet is a scourge on society.

  • ||

    What is interesting is that I bet Oropeza is the type that rails against racial profiling. Yet, when you consider that the poor and minorities are more likly to smoke than the rich and the whites, all this law is an excuse, as if cops needed another one, to pull over and harrass poor people. I love it how liberals are always so concerned about disparate impact except when it comes to sacred cows. Expect high school grads to be able to read to get a diploma and that is racist. Pass a law that gives cops a disproporionate right to pull over and harass the poor and minorities because they are smoking and that is a okay.

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), denies any intention to target smokers in their homes. ...Show of hands from those who believe her?



    I believe she has no intention to target smokers in their homes. I think she's perfectly willing to let the SWAT team do the targeting of smokers in their homes. But she might have to wait a couple years.

  • ||

    "A man's home may be his castle, but that doesn't mean he is free to abuse his children inside it by unnecessarily subjecting them to a substance which is known to cause cancer, and which kills thousands of children every year."

    Thousands of children every year?

    How do people get away with throwing out such bullshit numbers?

    Are there really people out there who say "Fuck. Thousands of kids? Maybe we should listen to this guy."

  • ||

    I'm not sure where I read it, but I recall a saying to the effect that a society will often support the greatest atrocities imaginable in the name of children's welfare.

    Sinclair Lewis?

    He seems to be the go-to author these days....

  • ||

    For her part, the author of California's car smoking ban, state Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), denies any intention to target smokers in their homes.

    What about people who live in their cars?

    Also, at least the home smoking ban would give the last laugh to zoned-out sex offenders; the law doesn't apply to your home if you live in a refrigerator box under a highway overpass!

  • ||

    Are there really people out there who say "Fuck. Thousands of kids? Maybe we should listen to this guy."


    Yes there are. They are the same people who won't let their kids out of the house alone because they are so concerned about a preditor kidnapping them.

  • ||

    Brotherben, Daddy grew up in Ozark, where I assume he acquired all of the bad habits I inherited. Are there any Ards left in LA?

  • Episiarch||

    Yes there are. They are the same people who won't let their kids out of the house alone because they are so concerned about a preditor kidnapping them.

    This is very true. There are people out there who cannot lose sight of their kids for more than 30 seconds before they start to panic. I wonder if that's good for the childrenz...

  • ||

    Let's rank bad/harmful parenting on a scale of 1-10. Zero is perfectly good parenting. A few examples

    1: using the TV as a babysitter
    4: not breastfeeding
    10: extreme physical and emotional abuse

    (of course these are subjective). Where does smoking around your kid (especially in an enclosed space like a car) rank on the scale? I'm a new father of a now 2 month old baby boy. I quit smoking when he was born because I'd been wanting to quit anyway and didn't like the idea of picking him up when I smelled like cigarettes (we all know how the smell sticks to your hands and clothes...ugh).

    The idea of my baby (or anyone else's baby) being in a smoky room or car feels downright abhorrent. I'd never let it happen to my kid and on the bad parenting scale, it feels to me like it's a 7 or 8. I suspect that many others feel this way. Once you establish that smoking around infants is terrible, it won't take long before smoking around minors of any age is seen in the same light. The funny thing is, despite my generally libertarianism instincts, I don't mind, and I'm not a militant non-smoker (as some converts are). This is the wave of the future people. Get used to only smoking outside.

    BTW, I hate the current parenting norms where kids are protected from every conceivable risk and playgrounds are ripped out in favor of rubber coated, excitement free paragons of safety. I plan on letting my kid run around as soon as I can. Yet I'd probably still support a blanket ban on smoking around kids.

  • ||

    "The idea of my baby (or anyone else's baby) being in a smoky room or car feels downright abhorrent."

    "But contrary to Banzhaf's implication, epidemiological studies generally do not find an association between childhood exposure to secondhand smoke and lung cancer."

    So basically you want government to base its policy on what amounts to your superstition.

    The Dark Ages, it is the wave of the future, get used to it. Joy Rapture!!

  • ||

    Do I detect a lot of cynicism in the comments here? Why yes I do. I wonder why.

    Since overexposure to the sun can lead to cancer, and since exposing your child to the potential of cancer is child abuse, no parents will be allowed to take their children to the beach, or anywhere outside for that matter.

    Breathalyzers? I can go one better. On site SPF measuring devices to be followed up with "a trip downtown" should your potentially melanoma afflicted children test insufficiently SPF positive. After all they are our most important resource*. We're talking about thousands** of skin cancer victims here!

    *We are gonna get so inebriated today!

    **Source: John Banzhaf Institute of Fabricated Alarming Statistics.

  • Bingo||


    1: using the TV as a babysitter
    4: not breastfeeding
    10: extreme physical and emotional abuse

    This list works well for male adults too (although the last one is probably okay as long as there's whipped cream involved)

  • ||

    James Ard,
    I see about 35 Ards in the phone book from Ozark, dothan Enterprise area. Several businesses with The same name.I know there where some here in Ozark when I was at mixon school 71-75.

  • Paul||

    Smoking, like other activities, should be confined to consenting adults in private

    Just like speech.

  • ||

    and church

  • Paul||

    Next up, once they reach 18 kids will sue their parents

    Squeezing blood from a rock over here...

  • ||

    Doubtful you met any of my relatives at church.

  • ramster||

    bingo: I'd have to disagree, I use the TV to babysit myself all the time and I wouldn't put it above zero on the scale.

    John: I don't dispute the dubious epidemiology associated with the alleged harm of second hand smoke. I still think it's pretty gross, and that's not a superstition, it's a subjective assessment. Which arguably isn't much better but we make lots of rules based on subjective assessment. Spanking kids doesn't do them any lasting physical harm yet that's frequently banned.

    Smoking is one of those activities that aside from the health issues, is just plain gross. When you smoke, you gross out everyone else around you who doesn't like to inhale, let alone be imbued with the smell, of smoke. It's like farting profusely...real stinkers too. But doing it voluntarily, because you liked it. Health issues aside, it's just plain rude to smoke around people who don't chose to be around it. Grownups can make that choice by staying away from smokers (one of the reasons why I oppose the ban on smoking in bars..though I do dig coming home after a few pints out at the bar and not smelling like Christopher Hitchens). Kids can't. They're stuck with their stinky smoking parents. Such grossness shouldn't be forced on them.

  • Paul||

    Get used to only smoking outside.

    They're working on that right now.

    Oh, by the way, they're convening a meeting on this health juggernaught: salt

    No slippery slopes here. Move along, nothing to see here.

  • ||

    No I meant church should be practiced by consenting adults in private.

  • ||

    And it is the moist bovine feces that makes the slopes particularly slick.

  • ||

    Just let children sue their parents for smoking. And vice versa.

  • ||

    When you smoke, you gross out everyone else around you who doesn't like to inhale, let alone be imbued with the smell, of smoke.

    Not that I enjoy poking holes in other's hypotheses, but I certainly did manage to get laid by a number of non-smoking women back in my whoring days.

  • Bingo||

    Consumer advocates say foodmakers' efforts aren't enough to get to the 50% cut in salt levels needed. "They deserve credit," says Jacobson. "But at the rate they're going it's going to take 100 years to get there." With the FDA stepping into the fray, the push to move faster could begin in earnest.

    hahahahah Paul, oh this is just wonderful

  • Paul||

    Smoking is one of those activities that aside from the health issues, is just plain gross. When you smoke, you gross out everyone else around you who doesn't like to inhale, let alone be imbued with the smell, of smoke.

    It's not "plain" gross. It's only gross to those who don't like cigarette (tobacco or marijuana) smoke. I'm not a cigarette smoker, but I enjoy the occasional cigar. I actually like the smell of some tobacco smoke.

    For instance, eating Kimchee in my presence is "plain" gross. If there was ever anything that really needed a law...

  • ||

    "They deserve credit," says Jacobson. "But at the rate they're going it's going to take 100 years to get there." With the FDA stepping into the fray, the push to move faster could begin in earnest.

    Salt habits start when?
    Just tip up the whole bottle.

  • Paul||

    BTW: typo above, I meant "juggernaut". My bad. Ruins the whole schtick... but please, read the link. Anyone who thinks this crap isn't a slope that slips...

  • ||

    Paul, you'd think in Korea, kimchee would be edible, wouldn't you? It ain't.

  • Paul||

    "Salt is probably the single most harmful ingredient in our foods," says Michael Jacobson, CSPI's executive director.

    Wrong. It's fermented cabbage.

  • ||

    "Just let children sue their parents for smoking. And vice versa."

    Yeah, that'll work. If there is one thing that would change the behavior of someone so callous and stupid they would expose their children smoke it is the uncertain prospect of a lawsuit 18 years in the future....

    I wonder, should it be OK to paint your kids room with some noxious paint and then make your kid sleep in the room?

  • ramster||

    funny, I quite like kimchee. It's not quite the same as smoking though. As a smoker, I hated the smell of smoke on my clothes and would smoke outside at home so that my stuff didn't stink. In general, I'd guess that far more people find cigarette smoke distasteful than like it (many smokers included). Again it goes back to choice and your kids can't chose to not be around smoke. Unfortunately, the total authority that parents have over their kids kind of screws up libertarian arguments about being free from government interference. Since kids have zero legal choice, someone needs to protect them from their parents.

  • Paul||

    I'd guess that far more people find cigarette smoke distasteful than like it

    Right... like kimchee.

    Since kids have zero legal choice, someone needs to protect them from their parents.

    First, children don't have "zero" legal choice, they have limited legal choice. And we do protect them from their parents, but from the real and present danger of physical abuse. Not contextual dangers such as not eating three balanced meals a day, allowing too much tv, subjecting them to 2nd hand smoke, or forcing them to endure an appetizer of kimchee. Once we start allowing the government to interfere with contextual dangers, the game is up.

  • ||

    Wrong. It's fermented cabbage.

    I was going to go with "rat droppings", but to each his own.

  • ||

    Paul
    Would having your kid sleep in a cold room be a "contextual danger?" How cold does it have to get to go from being a contextual danger to a real danger, and hence abuse?

  • ||

    My mother stocked up on cyclamate sweetened Kool Aid when the FDA (or predecessor) banned it. Child abuse?

  • ||

    I'm not sure where I read it, but I recall a saying to the effect that a society will often support the greatest atrocities imaginable in the name of children's welfare.

    I believe that one's out of "Mein Kampf."

  • Neu Mejican||

    Thousands of children every year?

    How do people get away with throwing out such bullshit numbers?


    Due to a decreased overall rate of SIDS likely due to changing infant sleep position, the attributed risk associating maternal smoking and SIDS has increased following the Back to Sleep campaign. Mothers should be informed of the 2-fold increased rate of SIDS associated with maternal cigarette consumption.
    http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/3/4

    172 in 10 years in Colorado...extrapolating to world population..."thousands" may be a bit high, but who knows.

    Kids and second hand smoke
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/115/1/e7

    2nd hand smoking deaths research
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7148/full/4471049a.html
    http://ndt.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/22/6/1508
    http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/13/3/319-a

  • ||

    Ahhh...kimchee...I know what I'm taking in to work for lunch tomorrow!!!

    Suck it up, beeyach!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    At last, we finally have the answer as to WTF is wrong with all the baby boomers. Second hand smoke from their fargin mothers at those neighborhood coffee klatches where the women sat around smoking, gassing, and eating coffee cake after the cherubs where shuttled off to school.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Kimchee is Menudo for [insert something clever here].

  • ||

    Yes, it was Hilter who said that.

    As for the ostensible SIDS "stats" produced by the same old propaganda machine, a new study has proven that 90% of what's been diagnosed as SIDS has actually been accidentaly smothering. The overcrowding that would correlate to this (lower socio-economics) might also correlate with smoking, but doesn't in any way make smoking causal. Just another excuse to abuse epidemiology in the a priori crowd.

    http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2007/dec/22/scripps-study-sids-focuses-accidental-suffocation/

    Finally, if exposing The Children to smells that they might (or not) be fond of constitutes abuse, cooking sauerkraut at home may soon be a crime. And, hey, why not?

  • ||

    Since kids have zero legal choice, someone needs to protect them from their parents.

    And since you've already copped to the fact that the epidemology behind this is bunk, what's the harm you're trying to protect kids from again?

    Oh no, but you're not a militant anti-smoker...you just think it should be banned in homes "because it's gross".

    What a joke!

  • ||

    This is very true. There are people out there who cannot lose sight of their kids for more than 30 seconds before they start to panic.

    Really? How do they sleep at night--with one eye open, in their children's bedroom? Ironic that this testimony is posted in the context of criticizing Banzhaf for using hyperbolic claims offered without substantiation.

  • Anon||

    Lefty logic:

    Smoking while driving a newborn home from the hospital: attempted murder.

    Aborting the baby 2 days before that: a "right".

  • ||

    """"A man's home may be his castle, but that doesn't mean he is free to abuse his children inside it by unnecessarily subjecting them to a substance which is known to cause cancer, and which kills thousands of children every year.""""

    If secondhand smoke is sooooo dangerous, western civilization would have died off decades, if not centuries ago.

  • ||

    Liberty means respecting all parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit -- short of practices that cause obvious, indisputable harm. That means that folks can raise their children with "unhealthy" diets, can expose them to incense or tobacco smoke or traffic exhaust or sunshine, can raise them to be creationists, or bigots, or even fans of South Park. It is in that premise that YOUR right to raise your children according to your own culture, traditions and values is grounded.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sam the Cat,

    I am not sure if that study is relevant.
    The "Back to Sleep" campaign cited in the other study addresses of where and how babies sleep, and has shown to reduce the SIDS rate. The study cited was conducted after the SIDS rate dropped due to this kind of education.

    SIDS, of course, is only one of the potential health problems in kids...Asthma is the more common complaint, and it can be deadly as well. (iirc, around 5000 deaths a year in the US).

  • Neu Mejican||

    Sam the Cat,

    but doesn't in any way make smoking causal.

    I don't believe the study made that claim.
    A 1.92 relative risk is not a claim about causation, but association.

  • ||

    Liberty means respecting all parents' rights to raise their children as they see fit -- short of practices that cause obvious, indisputable harm. That means that folks can raise their children with "unhealthy" diets, can expose them to incense or tobacco smoke or traffic exhaust or sunshine, can raise them to be creationists, or bigots, or even fans of South Park. It is in that premise that YOUR right to raise your children according to your own culture, traditions and values is grounded.

    Based on my experience as a gay man, I don't respect all parents' rights to forbid their children to express a homosexual identity, although I wouldn't argue that the harm that can result is obvious or indisputable. I'm not arguing that state action is the best way to counter attempts by parents to raise their children in that way, but I don't recognize any right by parents to practice coercion against their children to prevent homosexual expression.

    Given this specific objection, I wouldn't support a more generalized requirement to respect parental hegemony in such sweeping either, certainly not as a defintion of "liberty."

  • ||

    Interesting comment Parse,

    Perhaps I should have said "liberty implies" rather than "liberty means", as I certainly did not intend for that statement to define all that liberty is.

    As for the rest, yes, parents are (IMO) sometimes wrong. But given that children must be raised by someone -- that is, they don't spring on to the earth as full adults, I can't imagine a condition of liberty in which someone else (the state?) can claim greater power (or interest) than the parents, over what values are transmitted to the child.

    From a practical, societal, perspective, I would bet that such a society would remain free for about... ohh.. one generation.

  • ||

    I don't know where you're getting that 1.92 from but I'm saying any implied "association" is not to smoking anyway but to poverty and crowding which may also happen to be associated with smoking. Further, the general public, with the aid of a gushing press, always confuses correlation with causation.

    Back to Sleep has nothing to do with this new additional clarification about accidental smothering. In fact, to the extent that diminished air supply "causes" SIDS, it would be the same principle.

    Wikipedia happens to have a pretty accurate page on the possible causes of SIDS, many of which have to do with undiagnosed congenital conditions. The answer to What causes SIDS? is We don't know. And the answer may vary from infant to infant.

    Until very recently, cervical cancer was also a We don't know, yet an arbitary percent of it was attributed to smoking and, by extrapolation, even secondhand smoke. The real answer was a virus.

  • ||

    Both of my parents smoked, mom cigaretts, dad the pipe AND they smoked in the car. The ONLY thing it did to me was put me OFF smoking. NO health risks whatsoever.

  • Alexander||

    I miss bitching about the smoking ban. Too bad people in Chicago accepted so easily.

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