Losing Your Parents to Smoking

|

KATU, a Portland, Oregon, TV station, reports that the physician-activist behind Washington state's smoking ban, Chris Covert-Bowlds, has a new mission: making it a crime to smoke around children. The rule would apply not only to smoking in cars (which Arkansas already has banned) but also to smoking at home. Covert-Bowlds says smoking in the presence of children should be treated as a form of child abuse, although he recommends "educating" parents before hauling them off to jail and putting their kids in foster care.

KATU says an "informal, unorganized and quiet movement" is pushing the equation between smoking and child abuse, which mainstream anti-smoking groups such as the American Cancer Society so far have not endorsed. But the idea polls well, at least among residents of Greater Portland, 63 percent of whom said smoking with kids in the car should be treated as child abuse and 58 percent of whom said the same of smoking around kids at home.

Michael Siegel, who just recently explained how the argument for a ban on smoking in cars when children are present logically leads to a ban on smoking at home when children are present, tells his fellow anti-smoking activists why the latter is a bad idea:

Equating smoking around children with child abuse would be the most devastating and damaging thing that could possibly be done to these children–far worse than the exposure to the secondhand smoke itself. It's one thing to be at an increased risk of developing an upper respiratory infection, middle ear infection, or asthma, but quite another to be seized from the custody of your loving parents.

More generally, as Siegel argues, the health risk from secondhand smoke is simply not great enough to justify the sort of government intrusion that is appropriate when people are starving or beating their kids. If the bar were set as low as Covert-Bowlds recommends, there would be no end to the government's second-guessing of parents' decisions regarding their children's diets, exercise, education, TV viewing, recreational activities, and anything else that could affect their physical or mental health.

Is it really necessary to point this out? Study KATU's poll numbers, and you tell me.

NEXT: Rush to Judgment at Duke

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Chris Covert-Bowlds”

    Are you sure it’s not “Overt?”

    “although he recommends “educating” parents before hauling them off to jail and putting their kids in foster care.”

    Cool. Free “education” and your kids get taken care of. What’s not to like?

  2. Are we certain that the slippery slope is actually a fallacy?

  3. Does that mean I should stop blowing hits up my kid’s nose?

  4. Is it really necessary to point this out? Study KATU’s poll numbers, and you tell me.

    While I am alarmed at the amount of people in the survey who agreed that smoking = child abuse, I would point out that Portland, Oregon is (politically-speaking) just a tiny bit to the right of the Bay Area. In other words, not very representative of American public sentiment.

    Besides, as a homeschooler, I’ve already had to deal with this. You’d be amazed at the number of educrats/social workers who consider homeschooling to be de facto child abuse.

  5. There are tons of things that our parents did 20 to 30 years ago that are considered abuse or negligence today – for example, riding on a lap in the front seat of a car, having a pool without a fence. If you had suggested applying the penalties for these behaviors to a parent in 1970, you would have been looked at like you had a third arm.

    Might as well add smoking to it.

  6. “If the bar were set as low as Covert-Bowlds recommends, there would be no end to the government’s second-guessing of parents’ decisions regarding their children’s diets, exercise, education, TV viewing, recreational activities, and anything else that could affect their physical or mental health.”

    Jacob, I bleive that is exactly what Covert-Bowlds wants; to take away people’s right to raise their own children and give it to the government. Smoking is just the first step and the first excuse. All that stuff about the slipery slope, these people want to go down that slope.

  7. It’s … quite another to be seized from the custody of your loving parents.

    Well, they’re not so “loving” if they’re smoking around them, are they? [/snark]

  8. I’ll lay odds that if you surveyed kids they’d report more exposure to second hand smoke from their peers than their parents.

    But we can’t do anything about that. It’s already illegal for their peers to smoke.

    You’d be amazed at the number of educrats/social workers who consider homeschooling to be de facto child abuse.

    You’d be amazed at the number of educrats/social workers who consider parenting to be de facto child abuse.

  9. Well, they’re not so “loving” if they’re smoking around them, are they? [/snark]

    Or teaching them suversive ideas or not giving them the government approved diet.

  10. Add “child abuse” to the list of words/phrases that are losing any real meaning.

    Child abuse now means doing anything that others would disapprove of.

  11. Covert-Bowlds is a typical example of the anti-smoking lobby, he is (to borrow the words of Theodore Dalrymple) an “insistent and intolerant monomaniac”.

    Ironically, by banning smoking in bars and restaruants, Covert-Blowloads has likely increased the number of people who stay home and smoke around their kids, making Covet-Bowels an accomplice in the atrocity of second-hand smoke child abuse.

  12. While disappointing, this is hardly surprising. Because “protecting the children” is now the absolute overriding principle in society, any lie that furthers that goal is permissible and will be challenged by neither the MSM nor politicians.

  13. I can agree with that SR. It makes me want to have a basic cable network that shows nothing but kids programing from 5am to 10pm, but shows nothing but hardcore pornography from 10pm to 5am. Let the kids stay up too late and BAM that’s a money shot.

  14. Just once I would love to see someone on one of these MSM shout fests say in response to the “its for the children” line, “why don’t people raise thier own God damned kids?”

  15. It almost seems like it’s a smoke screen to get every protectionist, Big Brother, “don’t wipe your ass without permission” law passed.

    For the children, my ass. It’s for the fascists, collectivists, and nanny-staters, who, for some reason, don’t want to let people live their own lives.

  16. But if they lived their own lives Lowdog, they might do something wrong with it that we could have prevented and worse yet a child might suffer because of it. Oh the humanity.

    Its funny how the nannystaters use puritanism as an insult against all of their enemies when in reality they are the recipients of the mantle of American puritianism. They just lost God and replaced it with government. There is a reason why the New England has such a high concentration of these people.

  17. “They just lost God and replaced it with government”

    Best single line I’ve read on H+R in weeks. Kudos to John!

  18. Well, John, I know we don’t always see eye-to-eye on every subject, I’m totally in agreement with your post @6:02pm.

  19. Interesting. The Independent online ran an article today questioning the validity of the push to ban smoking based on studies of second hand smoking. The thrust was that second hand smoke is not all that dangerous and the people who say otherwise are usually basing their arguments on feelings rather than facts.

  20. The thrust was that second hand smoke is not all that dangerous and the people who say otherwise are usually basing their arguments on feelings rather than facts.

    Controlling other people is more important than honesty, and the feelings of the do-gooders are more important than anything else.

    “As every tyrant knows, no tyranny is complete until parents have learned to fear denunciation to the authorities by their own children. Of course, in brave new Britain, children will not go to the secret police; rather, they will go to a benevolent (if legalistic) authority, established solely to confer a benefit upon them and to protect their interests. We are not a boot-in-the-face people: ours will be a friendly fascism.”
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/12_3_sndgs07.html

  21. from the article:
    For the anti-smoking organizations like the American Cancer Society, it has been an uphill political battle against tobacco and restaurant lobbyists to get any smoking legislation.

    Hmm, really. The pro Washington I-901 ban campaign outspent its opponents roughly 50 to 1, (about $1.5 million versus $26,000) with funding coming from the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and other major organizations associated with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation. It also received support and in-kind contributions ($10,000) from the state Democratic party. The opposition received no money from the tobacco companies and no support from any political parties.

    Yeah, it’s really hard going up against those goliaths.

  22. While I appreciate Mr. Siegel’s sentiment- he’s about a decade (or more) too late. As we’ve seen since the nineties, a sharp rise in the general belief that the state had a right to intervene in all kinds of minutae when it came to the ‘public health’ has been happening for a very long time. The warnings were given, but not heeded. The result: GWB and the Department of Homeland Security, NSA wiretaps (which are still being argued as legal) etc.

    My latest prediction is we’re going to see a resurgence of gun-control legislation in direct juxtaposition to the increasing threat from The State(tm).

    It’s over, gentlemen, we’re Europe.

  23. Don’t forget! Feeding your kids candy, letting them stay up past eight o’clock, or letting them watch television is also child abuse.

  24. While I am alarmed at the amount of people in the survey who agreed that smoking = child abuse, I would point out that Portland, Oregon is (politically-speaking) just a tiny bit to the right of the Bay Area. In other words, not very representative of American public sentiment.

    Captain Holly:

    You know I love you and all, and nothing personal, but that don’t mean shit– forgive the coarse language. These are oft purely localized laws being passed. Seattle, and the major population center (greater puget sound) are slightly to the LEFT of Chairman Mao. The rest of the state which is considered slightly RIGHT of the Bay Area amount to a small percentage of the total state vote. Meaning: It’s going to happen if it comes up on a referendum. Guaranteed. We don’t need a strong, representative cross section of the entire united states. All they need is a few hundred thousand votes, and it’s the law of the land.

  25. I may have to start carrying around some blank stickers and a marker. Here in NYC, we’ve got these big ads that say Hollywood deserves an “F” for “failing to protect our children from tobacco”. I seriously want to write on these, “Since when is Hollywood responsible for raising your kids?”

  26. Holy smoke ! What about second hand incense?
    If lighting up in the presence of 60 pound parishoners fails to get Portland priests jailed , KATU should sue to shut down churches 2000 feet or less upwind of schools public and parochial.

  27. If your still smoking today you should be skinned alive and and your remains thrown into a septic tank. If you can’t police yourself moron the government will do it!

  28. I need to create a religion that involves shitloads of smoking. A man stands a small chance of having some independent action that way (but probably not). Scalia would just vote to throw me in the clink anyway.

    Dear god these people are just that fucking scary. How did it ever get to the point where people are actually taking this talking douche bag seriously?

  29. I need to create a religion that involves shitloads of smoking.

    One already exists. It’s called Santeria.

    Cigars also have deep significance in Santeria, the African-based spiritual tradition that is popular throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and which incorporates and reworks some elements of Catholicism. According to one expert on Afro-Caribbean diaspora culture (who asked to remain anonymous), “In Santeria, tobacco is a sacred substance, and the cigar has central importance. Priests and priestesses smoke cigars in both sacred and secular contexts.

  30. “If your still smoking today you should be skinned alive and and your remains thrown into a septic tank. If you can’t police yourself moron the government will do it!”

    Perfect example of how dangerous we have become to one another.

    Smoking is not a good habit, even most smokers will agree on such. But that is NOT a good reason to infringe upon the rights of those that choose to consume a legal product! Legal I might add in all 50 states! That is not a reason to brow beat a group of our citizens attempting to make them into second class citizens. It is not a reason to OVER tax them on their consumption either. Especially for reasons of increased health care?

    If that’s the case, then put those taxes into the accounts of those paying them, pay their health insurance with it!

  31. Hey, if we are all concerned about “protecting the children”, the first thing we should do is ban educated nanny-staters from living hedonistic, childless lifestyles. If I was a hypothetical child in heaven waiting my turn, I would rather having a parent who smokes than a parent who doesn’t have kids in the first place! Which is worse “abuse”?

    My God, I really want to smack a bunch of people on the left coast.

  32. “They just lost God and replaced it with government”

    I’ve been saying that for years since its so painfully obvious but then again so is:

    “Their parents no longer take care of them and keep them out of trouble so they replaced child rearing with government”.

    God is just the omnipotent parent.

    Cradle to grave parenting/chaperoning rocks! I feel so safe and warm.

    and in the US of A (a little OT but comes to mind):
    “There no king and queen so we replaced monarchy with celebrity.”

  33. Sending smokers off to re-education camps is an appealing idea, but has some serious flaws. An environment where 100% of the “students” are smokers would be a serious health hazard to the “faculty.” Further, such a high concentration of carbon-dioxide spewing smokers would surely exacerbate local climate change. What responsible community would allow such a toxic waste dump in their backyard.

    If you you really want to exterminate smoking, you need to exterminate the sine qua non of smoking, i.e., smokers. I know for a medical fact that the free radicals in cigarette smoke tends to not only prematurely age the smoker’s skin, it makes it thicker and tougher. I am convinced that the skin of smokers would make very durable lampshades. Yes, this is a harsh remedy, but remember IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!!

  34. It is amazing how people who smoke try to justify their habit. Even when it comes to their
    children, they see nothing wrong with smoking in
    the car or in their home when their children are
    present. We who care are not ‘do gooders’, as so
    many try to claim. Honestly, I have written that I do not care if people want to commit slow suicide, it is only when their second hand smoke
    becomes a part of my environment which causes me
    great distress, weeks or months of medical treatment in the form of antibiotics until the
    extreme congestion in my lungs and bronchial
    is cleared. It takes many more weeks before my feeling of well-being returns to where it was before I was assaulted by the smokers.

    Knowing how second hand smoke affects me is enough to encourage me to be concerned for the little ones who may be sitting in car seats, with no place to go when daddy and/or mommy lights up in the car. It would seem that if they love their children, it should not be a problem to protect them, to take their smoking outside. This kind of knowledge is gained by education.

  35. It is amazing how people who smoke try to justify their habit. Even when it comes to their
    children, they see nothing wrong with smoking in
    the car or in their home when their children are
    present. We who care are not ‘do gooders’, as so
    many try to claim. Honestly, I have written that I do not care if people want to commit slow suicide, it is only when their second hand smoke
    becomes a part of my environment which causes me
    great distress, weeks or months of medical treatment in the form of antibiotics until the
    extreme congestion in my lungs and bronchial
    is cleared. It takes many more weeks before my feeling of well-being returns to where it was before I was assaulted by the smokers.

    Knowing how second hand smoke affects me is enough to encourage me to be concerned for the little ones who may be sitting in car seats, with no place to go when daddy and/or mommy lights up in the car. It would seem that if they love their children, it should not be a problem to protect them, to take their smoking outside. This kind of knowledge is gained by education.

  36. It is amazing how people who smoke try to justify their habit. Even when it comes to their
    children, they see nothing wrong with smoking in
    the car or in their home when their children are
    present. We who care are not ‘do gooders’, as so
    many try to claim. Honestly, I have written that I do not care if people want to commit slow suicide, it is only when their second hand smoke
    becomes a part of my environment which causes me
    great distress, weeks or months of medical treatment in the form of antibiotics until the
    extreme congestion in my lungs and bronchial
    is cleared. It takes many more weeks before my feeling of well-being returns to where it was before I was assaulted by the smokers.

    Knowing how second hand smoke affects me is enough to encourage me to be concerned for the little ones who may be sitting in car seats, with no place to go when daddy and/or mommy lights up in the car. It would seem that if they love their children, it should not be a problem to protect them, to take their smoking outside. This kind of knowledge is gained by education.

  37. It is amazing how people who smoke try to justify their habit. Even when it comes to their
    children, they see nothing wrong with smoking in
    the car or in their home when their children are
    present. We who care are not ‘do gooders’, as so
    many try to claim. Honestly, I have written that I do not care if people want to commit slow suicide, it is only when their second hand smoke
    becomes a part of my environment which causes me
    great distress, weeks or months of medical treatment in the form of antibiotics until the
    extreme congestion in my lungs and bronchial
    is cleared. It takes many more weeks before my feeling of well-being returns to where it was before I was assaulted by the smokers.

    Knowing how second hand smoke affects me is enough to encourage me to be concerned for the little ones who may be sitting in car seats, with no place to go when daddy and/or mommy lights up in the car. It would seem that if they love their children, it should not be a problem to protect them, to take their smoking outside. This kind of knowledge is gained by education.

  38. It is amazing how people who smoke try to justify their habit. Even when it comes to their
    children, they see nothing wrong with smoking in
    the car or in their home when their children are
    present. We who care are not ‘do gooders’, as so
    many try to claim. Honestly, I have written that I do not care if people want to commit slow suicide, it is only when their second hand smoke
    becomes a part of my environment which causes me
    great distress, weeks or months of medical treatment in the form of antibiotics until the
    extreme congestion in my lungs and bronchial
    is cleared. It takes many more weeks before my feeling of well-being returns to where it was before I was assaulted by the smokers.

    Knowing how second hand smoke affects me is enough to encourage me to be concerned for the little ones who may be sitting in car seats, with no place to go when daddy and/or mommy lights up in the car. It would seem that if they love their children, it should not be a problem to protect them, to take their smoking outside. This kind of knowledge is gained by education.

  39. Albert J. Benson:

    Spam Twit. Way to get your point across Myron.

    Get back in your bubble!

  40. (Like antismokERs everywhere, Albert J. obviously believes in Lenin’s old adage: “A lie told often enough become the truth”.)

    Thank you, JS., for running with this.

    “Is it really necessary to point this out? Study KATU’s poll numbers, and you tell me.”

    Since Oregon has not yet imposed smoking laws, but intends to put an initiative on the ballot soon, I believe it is essential that voters there understand the impact such laws have.

    Covert-Bowlds appearance in Oregon as an “advance man” for the cause is a shot across the bow. Oregonians can expect full blown media treatment – an all out blitz of propaganda in the months to come.

    But there is still an opportunity for them to get the FACTS about second-hand smoke – as opposed to the “truth” as told by the AntismokER Crusade.

    Here’s a good place to start.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.