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A judge has ordered a smoker to stop lighting up
March 26, 2002 7:11 AM   Subscribe

A judge has ordered a smoker to stop lighting up at home or in her car if she wants continued visitation rights with her 13-year-old son who has complained about her pack-a-day habit. "Where the child's health is involved," the judge said, "the court would intervene, even if it meant overriding the parents' religious beliefs." Is this in the best interest of the child or an intrusive ruling?
posted by phooey (104 comments total)

 
it's about as intrusive as the US law stating people under 18 can't buy cigarettes, or the one that says people under 21 can't buy alcohol. or maybe the laws that go along with the no-smoking signs in a restaurant or subway station. it's actually much less intrusive than the smoker's insistance on doing so around the poor kid.
posted by LuxFX at 7:18 AM on March 26, 2002


I think this is wonderful! Having been a prior smoker (and god do I miss my smokes at times), I would never, ever light up around my daughter. Just because I choose to inhale cancer on a stick does not give me the right to impede my child's well-being and overall health by subjecting her to my second hand smoke.

Justice Robert Julian, of Utica, issued the ban although the youth is not allergic to tobacco smoke and doesn't suffer from a health condition, such as asthma, that would be worsened by it.

Hmmm... methinks someone missed the point with this silly statement. Check out information on second hand smoke> and its effects, particularly on children's health.

Where the child's health is involved, the judge said, the court would intervene, even if it meant overriding the parents' religious beliefs.

Excuse me but when did smoking become part of ones religious beliefs. Does she have a right to smoke - absolutely. Does she have a right to impose her nasty habits on others, particularly her own child thereby causing a higher risk for disease and infection - absolutely not.
posted by gloege at 7:23 AM on March 26, 2002


Hmm.. I don't think it's intrusive, I'd find it troubling if say the kid, nor his dad complained about the mom's smoking and the state decided to insert this 'ban' all on it's own, but if the kid doesn't want second hand smoke and has health troubles, then all the better for him.

I find it appaulling how parents, who should be adults in any case, can squandar so much money on cigarettes and then tell their kids that they can't afford something. I mean, never mind even second hand smoke, a pack of Camels costs like 4 bucks.. more in other states.
posted by tiaka at 7:26 AM on March 26, 2002


I was paying over $6 in british columbia (that's in Canada, for those who don't know).

It's been 11 days since I quit smoking, and I quit for two reasons: the health of my child, who is nearing two, and my own health.

Do I agree with the judge? You bet! We don't let my wife's family smoke in the house, or even in their own car when our son is in it. It's all about the rights of our child and making sure that those rights are upheld until he can take care of them himself.
posted by ashbury at 7:40 AM on March 26, 2002


I should clarify my statement. Up until I quit I always smoked outside and rarely when he was awake--I didn't want him to see me smoking.
posted by ashbury at 7:43 AM on March 26, 2002


Wow, I read this, and said to myself, "Who the hell is going to agree with this judge?" Definately don't have my finger on the pulse of America, huh?

So a judge can decide that a mother can't see her own child is that mother smokes? What the hell? From this article, it doesn't even say she can't smoke near the child...it says she can't smoke in her home or car. As far as I can tell, there are no ill health effects to being in a stinky house. Again, from the limited information given, it doesn't even seem that the woman is a bad mother, in any respect but that she smokes.

I don't like smoking as much as the next guy, but a judge should not be able to prevent a person from seeing their own child because that person engages in a commonplace, perfectly legal activity.

And gloege, the judge was just demonstrating that the court is so powerful that even if the mother's religious beliefs, which are protected by the first amendment, endangered a child, it would intercede. Not that smoking is a religion.
posted by Doug at 7:51 AM on March 26, 2002


So, did any of you read the article? Because I did, and the way I see it, the mother is prohibited from smoking in her home or car at all times, not just when her child is visiting.

"Nicholas was ashamed that his mother was a smoker," the lawyer said. "He said his mother's house reeked."

You may not like it, but smoking is still legal and 13 year-olds will always be embarrassed by their parents. If you start imposing restrictions on perfectly legal behavior because a teenager thinks his parent is a dork, then we're screwed royally.

Still, if the mom was prohibited from smoking in the presence of her kid, or maybe even the house/car thing for the duration of his visits I think I could be behind it.
posted by stefanie at 7:52 AM on March 26, 2002


It is not the place of the state to make this decision. Before you all jump on me, let me say that I disapprove of this woman's behavior. I quit smoking when I had kids, and think it's a poor choice to smoke around kids.

There's a lady who lives downstairs from me, she's got an 11-year-old and she smokes a *lot*. I can often smell the smoke wafting into my apartment. I disapprove, but it isn't the states' place to do this.

Would they remove him from her if she let him eat all the crappy junk food he wanted? Would they remove him from her if she showered him with anything he wanted? It's bad for the kid, but the state shouldn't do anything about it.
posted by rocketman at 7:54 AM on March 26, 2002


And gloege, the judge was just demonstrating that the court is so powerful that even if the mother's religious beliefs, which are protected by the first amendment, endangered a child, it would intercede. Not that smoking is a religion.

Aren't Christian Scientists sometimes charged with neglect or abuse if their child becomes gravely ill or even dies because they refused to seek medical help?
posted by starvingartist at 7:59 AM on March 26, 2002


I don't like smoking as much as the next guy, but a judge should not be able to prevent a person from seeing their own child because that person engages in a commonplace, perfectly legal activity.

Actually, in family court, that happens all the time. Engaging in legal activity, such as smoking like a chimney or drinking yourself into a stupor, does not equate to the best interests of the child. No matter how legal those activities are, the court is well within its rights to consider them and the detriment they cause when deciding child welfare cases.

And gloege, the judge was just demonstrating that the court is so powerful that even if the mother's religious beliefs, which are protected by the first amendment, endangered a child, it would intercede. Not that smoking is a religion.

I'm not sure what the context of the statement regarding religion was, but even if it was a religiously mandated activity, the court can still hold that against the parents. Religious exercise CAN be curtailed when it somes in conflict with a neutral, generally applicable law. Child welfare is certainly that kind of law.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:01 AM on March 26, 2002


"My pop caught me smoking, and he says NO WAY...That hypocrite smokes 2 packs a day!"
posted by jmd82 at 8:03 AM on March 26, 2002


Intrusive ruling? PLEASE! You obviously don't know children today whose parents inflicted them with asthma because of their cute little addiction. Harm a person for life out of some righteous sense of freedom.
posted by fleener at 8:06 AM on March 26, 2002


Starvingartist: Yes.

monju_bosatsu: You make a good point, but drinking yourself into a stupor effects your abilities as a parent. I don't have kids, but I assume it's pretty hard to feed them, watch them and so on when in a "stupor." How does a woman smoking, perhaps not even in the presence of her child, diminish her ability as a parent?
posted by Doug at 8:09 AM on March 26, 2002


I'm just sad that the judge didn't also prohibit the mother from sitting in heavy traffic, firing up a wood stove, preparing fatty foods, handling sharp objects, etc.

It's incredible to me to see people claiming that this judgment isn't "intrusive." What else can you call it? "Hands-off"? "Devil-may-care"? It would be more honest for some of you to simply say that smoking should be illegal rather than hide behind a bit of pro-children posturing.
posted by Skot at 8:09 AM on March 26, 2002


I don't like smoking as much as the next guy, but a judge should not be able to prevent a person from seeing their own child because that person engages in a commonplace, perfectly legal activity.

I couldn't agree more, Doug, and I can't believe that more people don't see the hypocrisy here. If you hate cigarettes so much, outlaw them. But don't allow them to be sold on every street corner, then punish people for using them.
posted by jpoulos at 8:13 AM on March 26, 2002


Would they remove him from her if she let him eat all the crappy junk food he wanted? If it is such that the child's health is endangered, why not? The number of children developing adult-onset diabetes is rising pretty quickly.

Would they remove him from her if she showered him with anything he wanted? If that included cocaine and firearms, why not? Again, it's a health concern.

I think it's a good decision. We have laws restricting smoking in public places to protect non-smokers, but none restricting smoking around children, who are not given a choice of whether to be surrounded by smoke or not.

...the court would intervene, even if it meant overriding the parents' religious beliefs. Just curious...is this true in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses, whose religious beliefs require rejection of certain forms of medical intervention? (I'm not sure if this rule even applies to children in that religion.)
posted by troybob at 8:14 AM on March 26, 2002


of course it's intrusive! (and as monju_bosatsu pointed out, it happens all the time in family court).

i'd wager there isn't a single nonintrusive ruling ever in family court.

this is why i don't practice family law.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:14 AM on March 26, 2002


Whenever a discussion about smokings' effects on others gets brought up here on Metafilter, how quick the discussion goes to "well, stop the kid from eating Cheetos!" Whether or not those who bring up that argument have a point, it is not relevant to what is being discussed. It is not as if you can discuss the harm that one thing may do, and dismiss any discussion on it while bringing up every other harmful thing under the sun and saying, "well, we should ban that too then, eh?"

I have mixed feelings on this one, but it would be foolish for anyone to think that just becuase she may not smoke when the kid is there that pollutants are not left behind and can affect the kid. As far as I am concerned, she can smoke all she wants, but there are limitations, and in this case they are in a legal setting. What about the kid's desire not to be around the smoking? Or not to sit in the car or house of someone who smokes? Maybe a better ruling is that the kid has the right to NOT go over to his mom's if she smokes in the house.
posted by adampsyche at 8:20 AM on March 26, 2002


In custody cases, a LOT of weight is given to the child's feelings. The kid complained to a case worker about the smoking - possibly at the instigation of the grandparents, maybe to exert some power over the proceedings, or because he was genuinely concerned over his mother's health. Or all of the above. No matter, it becomes part of the proceedings.

Because this is part of an already existing case, it's factored in. Otherwise, no way should the justice system be involved in something like this. Nagging your parents to quit smoking is a rite of passage, subpoenas and restraining orders should be reserved for more important stuff.
posted by groundhog at 8:20 AM on March 26, 2002


FWIW, my son's biological mother can not visit him if she or any person smokes around him, curses around him, or anything remotely abusive. Not that she visits him anyway, but it's in there.
posted by adampsyche at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2002


Doug says: monju_bosatsu: You make a good point, but drinking yourself into a stupor effects your abilities as a parent. I don't have kids, but I assume it's pretty hard to feed them, watch them and so on when in a "stupor." How does a woman smoking, perhaps not even in the presence of her child, diminish her ability as a parent?

I think the above links to the effects of second hand smoke, especially on children, demonstrate the impact smoking has on the fitness of the parent. I also think that the resistance to the initial request to refrain from smoking and this subsequent ruling demonstrates a willful refusal on the part of the mother to think about the interests of her child.

jpoulos says: I couldn't agree more, Doug, and I can't believe that more people don't see the hypocrisy here. If you hate cigarettes so much, outlaw them. But don't allow them to be sold on every street corner, then punish people for using them.

The problem with that approach is that it pushes us to undesirable extremes. I don't want to ban all smoking in all circumstances. Rather, there needs to be some exercise of reasoned judgment to determine which situations are appropriate for smoking and which are not. The judge is simply saying here that caring for children is not one of those appropriate circumstances. Again, think about it like drinking. We have not outlawed achohol, and in fact, when we tried it was a disaster. Rather, we have specific prohibitions which function to limit consumption of alchohol to appropriate situations. For example, we prohibit drinking while driving and drinking before age 21. This ruling regarding smoking should properly be considered in that light.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2002


No, smoking should not be illegal, because what you do with your own body is up to you. Smoking in public should be, and smoking around children is without doubt harming the health of the child.

How does a woman smoking, perhaps not even in the presence of her child, diminish her ability as a parent?

Because she is poisoning the child.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year among nonsmokers.
- Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Office of Air and Radiation. Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders. EPA/600/6-90, 1992


Don't confuse the issue, it's not about personal liberty, it's about one person doing something to another that is clearly dangerous. Just because it's legal doesn't mean it can't kill.

The product they sell kills more people than AIDS, murder, suicide, fires, alcohol and all illegal drugs combined.
- Kills more than…combined: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC, May 23, 1997

posted by rhyax at 8:31 AM on March 26, 2002


and at 16 the kid starts smoking himself... what then?

At thirteen, if I could have put my parents in prison for smoking and drinking I probably would have.

Government etc needs to stop being so maternal and just let us make our own choices. I doubt this kid is being harmed in any major way, certainly no more than the exhaust fumes outside are harming him.
posted by twistedonion at 8:32 AM on March 26, 2002


doug:

How does a woman smoking, perhaps not even in the presence of her child, diminish her ability as a parent?

it is false to assume, however, that one's ability as a parent is the only factor to consider; second-hand smoke has serious health ramifications (i suppose i can dig up reports if you're jonesing for evidence). it does not directly impact one's ability as a parent, though it does impact one's ability to raise a child free of the effects of the smoke.

I couldn't agree more, Doug, and I can't believe that more people don't see the hypocrisy here. If you hate cigarettes so much, outlaw them. But don't allow them to be sold on every street corner, then punish people for using them. (emphasis mine)

these sentiments always seem so naive to me. doesn't anyone remember the prohibition of alcohol? do people honestly believe that nicotine and smoking is not so well-entrenched in our society that outlawing it would be possible? jpoulos, can you offer a better solution to "punishing" people for smoking that is realistic?
posted by moz at 8:33 AM on March 26, 2002


If you hate cigarettes so much, outlaw them. - jpoulos

The laws surrounding cigarette smoking are changing. California has strong laws concerning where you can smoke, as does British Columbia, and the city where I live, London, Ontario. The Workers Compensation Board in Canada also has strong views as to whether people are allowed to inflict their right to smoke on people who may be unwilling to accept second-hand smoke but have to because of their job.

In my opinion, something that has been and will be proven again and again to be so harmful to a person and those around them can only be outlawed. Or legislated to the point that smoking will be a black market activity. Or deemed illegal unless it's done in certain places.

I also believe that as the morals and ethics of society change, the courts change. It's only natural that the courts reflect what society as a whole deem to be acceptable or unacceptable, be that in public or in private, therefor the smoking issue is a hot button topic.
posted by ashbury at 8:42 AM on March 26, 2002


I don't think this is about punishing the mother. At least, I do not believe from the child's or the court's perspective this is about punishing the mother. Yes, the article reads that this mother can never smoke in her home and her car again - I figure that is poor writing on the part of the reporter. I am not sure a judge can ban smoking legally in the privacy of one's home and car unless it significantly impacts the minor in question. This leads me to conclude that she cannot smoke when her child is present. That to me is totally fair and well within the child's right to request it and within the court's right to grant it.

Regarding potential instigation by outside parties (namely the father and grandparents), why is this a bad thing?? It simply shows they care about the health and well-being of this child.

I do not hate cigarettes. I smoked them quite happily for seven years. However, I did NOT smoke in public places with the exception of bars where it literally made no difference if I smoked or abstained (Whee - here comes the YOU ARE A HYPOCRITE rants). However, in parks, restaurants, and other places where children and adults who might be offended were, I did not light up. To me that was common courtesy. I did not light up in my car or my house should nonsmokers be around. I did not light up around my child. It is as simple as that.

I don't think anyone here is screaming that cigarettes are from the devil and should be banned. However, I do think people are justifiably outraged that this mother was requested by her child to not expose him to her second hand smoke and by her continued practice therein, had to go to the courts to ensure his own personal wellbeing and safety. That, ladies and gentlemen, IS the issue here.
posted by gloege at 8:44 AM on March 26, 2002


The problem with that approach is that it pushes us to undesirable extremes.

I maintain that the ruling here is pushing us to undesirable extremes. Apparently, I'm in the minority, but I think it's a mistake.

My stepson has been raised a vegetarian. I think it's wonderful. I find the idea of a 4-year-old chomping down on a hot dog, with all the chemicals and added hormones (not to mention rat feces, etc) contained therein, to be completely repulisve. Do I think that parents should force their kids to eat such garbage? No way. Do I think they are doing harm to their children by letting them eat that crap? Absolutely. Do I think they should be prohibited from doing so. Nope. (Note: I, myself, eat meat, but I'm an adult and I've made that decision.)

If you think I'm talking apples and oranges here, you're wrong. The effects of second hand smoke are, despite the propaganda, minimal. There's virtually no evidence linking the typical smoking-related illnesses--heart disease, emphysema, etc--to second hand smoke. Juvenile asthma can be linked to it, and some kids have allergies to cigarrette smoke, but you can find kids with similar allergies to pork products or MSG. And childhood obesity (due in no small part to a high-fat diet) is practically an epidemic in the US.

And what about activities that aren't physically harmful to children, but psychologically so? Dad, you're not allowed to be racist around junior, because you'll fuck him up for life. One could argue that racist parents are psychologically abusing their child--especially if, say, that child has african-american friends. Shall we ban that too?
posted by jpoulos at 8:45 AM on March 26, 2002


The effects of second hand smoke are, despite the propaganda, minimal.

The American Medical Association disagrees with you. I think I will take what they say over your opinion anyday.
posted by gloege at 8:50 AM on March 26, 2002


Very good argument jpoulos.

Is it just me, or does the whole legal system not seem to be getting a bit confused. Far too many legal precedents are being set that are going to be abused in the future.

We really need to stop this insanity
posted by twistedonion at 8:53 AM on March 26, 2002


And what about activities that aren't physically harmful to children, but psychologically so? Dad, you're not allowed to be racist around junior, because you'll fuck him up for life. One could argue that racist parents are psychologically abusing their child--especially if, say, that child has african-american friends. Shall we ban that too?

It might happen. Who's to say it won't? Like gloege pointed out, the woman probably isn't banned from smoking entirely - just when her kid is around. And maybe a racist parent would be warned not to spout his or her rhetoric around his or her child. Tough to control, but it might happen. And I don't think it would necessarily be a bad thing. You can't shout "Fire!" in a crowded movie theater - that doesn't curtail your right to free speech.
posted by starvingartist at 8:57 AM on March 26, 2002


The effects of second hand smoke are, despite the propaganda, minimal.

Boy, I left myself wide open there, didn't I? Perhaps it's better phrased "the effects of second hand smoke on children are not nearly as harmful as people make them out to be." Of course it's not healthy for kids to be around smoke. When I was a smoker, years ago, you wouldn't catch me smoking anywhere near my stepson. But the idea that smokers are "slowly poisoning" their children is unfounded, or at least, exaggerated.
posted by jpoulos at 8:57 AM on March 26, 2002


The American Medical Association disagrees with you. I think I will take what they say over your opinion anyday.


Do you not think a page entitled team-up-against-smoking.html is going to be a wee bit biased. jpoulos did say - 'in spite of propoganda'
posted by twistedonion at 8:58 AM on March 26, 2002


The effects of second hand smoke are, despite the propaganda, minimal.

The American Medical Association disagrees with you.


Big deal. That's a political position (and look to this thread to see what a non-risky position that is), not a scientific one. There hasn't been any study that has positively shown causation between second hand smoke and significant health risk (though plenty claim to do so, hauling out the old "correlation = causation" fallacy).
posted by Skot at 9:00 AM on March 26, 2002


Actually, that's the Alberta Medical Association, as in Alberta, Canada.
posted by chemgirl at 9:01 AM on March 26, 2002


This is what gets me: The only reason the state has the right to impose these restrictions is because the parents are divorced and one has sole custody? I don't get this: any married couple with kids can smoke up as much as they want to without the courts threatening to take away their kids, but once the court has the power to dictate terms, as in a divorce or an adoption, they can put in any restrictions they want to.

I think smoking should be banned everywhere, but that doesn't stop me from thinking this judgement and others like it are wrong because they discriminate against those who have already had their child taken away from them, while not touching those who have kids 100% of the time and smoke around them every day.

It's all or nothing. Piecemeal laws lead to unequal limitations.
posted by kfury at 9:05 AM on March 26, 2002


My feeling is that if she smokes on her own time, in her own house, when the child is not there, that should be enough. If he doesn't like the smell when he's there, buy some frickin' air spray. My parents smoked when I was a kid, and sometimes I didn't like the smell; you know what I did (instead of litigation)? I went outside.

To make her not smoke in her own house or her own car, even if the kid is not present, is asinine. I don't smoke, but if she wants to light up in her home or car, I say "Light up, baby!". If the kid really has a problem with it then come up with some sort of compromise. For example, if he's coming over then smoke outside.

And don't give me that "But some kids can't talk to their parents like that.", because if you can bring momma to court, then you can certainly ask momma to smoke outside where you're there.

The judge said that "the mother's puffing was not in the boy's 'best interests.'"... well what about fatty foods, or smog, or UV rays, or runaway buses, or serial killers, or rabid militant gophers with Uzi's? None of those are in the "best interests" of the child. Maybe we should lock him up in a little "clean room" and send him sterilized Soylent Green through a sanitary tube since virtually everything could be construed as not in his "best interests" by somebody. This womans child is not allergic to the smoke, has no medical problems that could be irritated by the smoke, and is in excellent health. I say let her do what she want to do. Hell, one of my friends sister has a 2+ year old who can't talk, still breastfeeds (don't get me started on this one), and has had no immunizations yet. To me, none of this seems in his "best interests", but it's her kid and her choice, no matter how wrong I think it is; especially since he is in no danger.

The world would be in a sorry state of affairs of every kid who was embarrased by his parents was able to take legal action to get them to stop doing what they are doing.
posted by crankydoodle at 9:07 AM on March 26, 2002


One could argue that racist parents are psychologically abusing their child - Shall we ban that too?
Uhh, yes actually, that would be a very good idea.
posted by RokkitNite at 9:10 AM on March 26, 2002


Excellent point chemgirl. I apologize. Dare I try again?

From JAMA:

Pediatric Counseling for Parents Who Smoke

Even a Little Secondhand Smoke Is Dangerous

Secondhand Smoke as a Cause of Atherosclerotic Disease

Effects of Passive Smoking on Coronary Circulation

Respiratory Effects of Secondhand Smoke
posted by gloege at 9:13 AM on March 26, 2002


Me: One could argue that racist parents are psychologically abusing their child - Shall we ban that too?

RokkitNite: Uhh, yes actually, that would be a very good idea.

Uhh, guess what? That's Thought-Police bullshit. Free speech, even racist asshole speech, even speech that you and I find completely reprehensible, is protected in the first amendment. If someone wants to raise their child to be a racist, I defend their right to do so. I also defend my own right to despise that person, and probably someday that child.
posted by jpoulos at 9:23 AM on March 26, 2002


What's wrong with breastfeeding a 2 year old? In many cultures it's done until the kid is far older than that, there are no health risks associated with it (unless the mother takes medications that are excreted in breast milk), in fact it's quite healthy for the child. The other stuff makes sense to be worried about, but not the breastfeeding.

This ruling is crazy, the kid has every right to ask his mother not to smoke around him, but this is just insane.
posted by biscotti at 9:47 AM on March 26, 2002


And that judge has way overstepped the authority vested in that position, and should be removed from the bench as soon as possible.
posted by scottymac at 10:01 AM on March 26, 2002


Methinks too many of you are too comfy with the concept of the state and the feds hanging out in your house telling you what to do.

What's next? Call social services! The Jones' let their kids watch rated 'R' movies! Or play grand theft auto! Or have too much ice cream before dinner! Jesus people WAKE UP. This shit is a slippery slope.

We can't have judges and presidents and lawyers telling us how to raise our kids.
posted by glenwood at 10:02 AM on March 26, 2002


Boy, I left myself wide open there, didn't I? Perhaps it's better phrased "the effects of second hand smoke on children are not nearly as harmful as people make them out to be."

Really? Gee, thanks, guess that makes up for why most of my childhood was spent in hospitals, with specialists who had to deal with my lungs, and the blood I constantly coughed up. Of course, both my parents were heavy smokers... Then one year I moved away... Stayed with non-smokers... And, guess what? The same specialists who said I wouldn't live past 16, couldn't for the life of them explain why I suddenly improved.

Obvious? You are ingesting chemicals, and spewing them in a very concentrated manner to those around you. Not harmful? Ever close yourself in a room with paint fumes? Or solder some leads in a non-ventillated environment? DO you believe chemicals and foreign substances are actually GOOD for people? Sure, cars produce pollutants too, that's why sitting in a car, in an enclosed garage usually leads to fatal results... Open areas are fine. I actually disagree with most, smoking should be allowed outside, in parks, etc. As the ONLY place it can be performed...

We are not talking about the pleasant draft of roses, but taking a chemically treated product, setting it on fire and forcing it in and out of your lungs, typically in an enclosed environment. If it isn't healthy for the smoker, who gets a freakin filter, how could it be non-harmful to those around said smoker?

I agree, make 'em illegal. You can't continue to sell & tax them, yet rule agains't them. Make 'em illegal. If there is a black market, so be it.
posted by jkaczor at 10:16 AM on March 26, 2002


glenwood: while I'd normally agree with you 100%, and am really uneasy with government meddling in private lives, the fact remains that there are a whole heck of a lot of parents who NEED someone to tell them how to raise their kids, because they have no idea what they're doing and are damaging their kids through bad parenting (not in this case, although I do think the mother was pretty insensitive and could have made it all go away just by being a bit more thoughtful and reasonable). I find it tricky to view this as just a personal freedoms issue, since it's not like the children (won't somebody think of the children?!) have any choice or say in the matter, and it's not like the parents are the only ones whose needs should be taken into account.
posted by biscotti at 10:17 AM on March 26, 2002


glenwood:

What's next? Call social services! The Jones' let their kids watch rated 'R' movies! Or play grand theft auto! Or have too much ice cream before dinner! Jesus people WAKE UP. This shit is a slippery slope.

apples and oranges, glenwood; rated R movies haven't the direct medical implications that second-hand smoke does. this is not a case of the slippery slope; at least, not how you describe.
posted by moz at 10:19 AM on March 26, 2002


A few points:

A good call by kfury. Married parents can smoke day and night, 24/7 around their child and not risk having their child taken away. So single parents, in addition to the pressures put on them as a single parent in general, also have to deal with a court system hanging over their shoulder deciding how to raise the child. Oh, and we all know what a good job the state does in raising children. Such fine young gentlemen and ladies come out of the foster care and juvenile centers.

Also, let's make some distinctions instead of running for the most extreme examples we can come up with. Second hand smoke studies are done assuming extensive periods of constant exposure. They have not been conducted on a kid who spends less than 48 hours a week with a parent. While I'm not going to argue that it poses no harm to the child, I would question how much. Is it any worse than if the child was sent to spend 2 days a week with a parent who lived in NY or LA where the exposure to polluted air is 24/7?

For those who have asked as to why we still sell cigarettes but we pass laws on where they can be smoked. . . it's called taxes. The amount of money collected by the state and federal governments from cigarette taxes is staggering. Oh, and when you factor in how much the tobacco companies slip into the pockets of the politicians, it becomes even more absurd.

Lastly, I don't smoke any longer. Actually, that's kinda a lie. Sometimes I like to smoke when I drink so I might smoke at a party or social event. What gets me is that I could pull out some heroin and smack up right there and most people wouldn't even pay attention. But if you smoke, not only do people feel the need to be offended but they feel the need to let you know they're offended. Somebody standing 20 feet away will say, "Ewwww. That's a disgusting habit." Alcoholics have a disease. Drug addicts have a disease. Cigarette smokers are disgusting, vile, sub-creatures who don't belong in civilized society. I would be more welcomed walking around with a sign around my neck saying "I have the ebola virus" than I would smoking a cigarette. Or my favorite is the 5' 5", 350 lb lady who pops off with a second hand smoke comment. Listen, there's nothing in your life healthy, lady. Your body fighting off the second hand smoke is probably the most exersice you'll do today. People feel compelled to tell you what a danger you pose to their health while you're standing outside having a smoke but don't do a damn thing when the car in front of them is spewing out a trail of black soot so thick it chips the paint on your car as you drive through it. The point is, you have to put the risk into perspective. Second hand smoke can have negative health consequences but it's highly doubtful that the two steps you have to take past the people forced to smoke outside in the rain is going to result in your needing to be whisked off by ambulance. Quit acting like rabid fanatics!!
posted by billman at 10:20 AM on March 26, 2002


We can't have judges and presidents and lawyers telling us how to raise our kids.

So, if my kid always has bruses on her, it's ok? The fact that she is suffering physical trauma is ok? Exactly what do you think cigarette smoke does to the lungs, massage them?

If I didn't feed my kid for days at a time, locked her up in a closet with no sunlight, would it be wrong for the state to intervene.

It's called society, you can live in one, unlike an animal, or you can live outside of it. There are trade-off's. I think the fallacy of the whole thing lies in the double-standard cigarettes have.

Proven to be fatal, taxed and generally un-healthy. But still available for sale. Hmm, the world I am looking for is...
dichotomy

Abuse of anything is still abuse. Alcohol is legal, yet if you drink to much you shouldn't operate machinery, or drive a vehicle. Do you think raising a child is less complex than driving a vehicle?
posted by jkaczor at 10:22 AM on March 26, 2002


TODAY IN HISTORY

Metafilter gets worked up over second hand smoke.
posted by Skot at 10:24 AM on March 26, 2002


moz: haven't the direct medical implications that second-hand smoke does

I disagree. It is a slippery slope. You're correct in saying that second hand smoke and R rated movies don't pose the same health risk but the legal theory being used is a slippery slope. You are basically saying that if the state determines something to be unhealthy for your child then they can take your children away. Now, I happen to believe that if there is some real danger/risk then we need to, as a society, take some action but there should be very well defined limits about what the courts can deem to be a danger/risk. Otherwise, some judge with a wild hair up is butt one day can decide that allowing your children to use a cell phone produces risk of brain cancer so off your kid goes to the foster care system. The question, as it is in many cases with the law, is not whether or not the courts should have the right, but at what point are they overstepping their bounds.
posted by billman at 10:31 AM on March 26, 2002


It isn't apples and oranges at all. We do step on to a very slippery slope when we allow ideology to be placed above the law as it is written. There is a legislative process to be followed when adjustments to the laws are deemed nessecary. Just last week, a Senate committee wisely derailed the Pickering nomination to the Federal Judiciary due to concerns that he couldn't or wouldn't put his personal views aside while judging cases. Whatever side of any public issue are on, legislating from the bench is a public disservice.
posted by scottymac at 10:31 AM on March 26, 2002


Or have too much ice cream before dinner! Jesus people WAKE UP. This shit is a slippery slope.

I believe that if you do not provide a nutricious diet, and children become ill or die, social services is often called. I seem to recall some religious nuts in California within the last six monthes whose children had extreme malnutrition.

Face it, you elect these farts, you play by the rules. (A Utah Phillips track from "the past didn't go anywhere" comes to mind)

A country is an operating framework, by which a society is formed. Certain standards of behaviour, health and acceptance are initiated and potentially legislated. A culture is an informal set of operating rules, unlike a society which formalizes them.

The problem is, societies, cultures, behaviours and expectations change over time. Cracking used to be something those nasty little geeks with no lives did, bad yes, but those kids sure were smart. Now society has legislated them as criminals, because as we become ever more networked/linked, their damage vectors escalate.
posted by jkaczor at 10:32 AM on March 26, 2002


billman
Alcoholics have a disease. Drug addicts have a disease. Cigarette smokers are disgusting, vile, sub-creatures who don't belong in civilized society.

Exactly, word of the day (for me), dichotomy.

gambling addiction?

Cigs' have been proven to be addictive. What becomes a slippery slope (IMO), is that if a government allows the sale, and subsequent taxation of harmful, or addictive substances, does that govermnent not become as culpable as the manufacturers?

And if things are diseases should prison time be the answer? Or should the government be forced to treat the diseases it is helping to create?
posted by jkaczor at 10:37 AM on March 26, 2002


Disgusting. So, where will this slippery slope lead?

"You don't eat right - too much fat content. We're taking your child."

Keep in mind that allowing the state to intrude into the home like this can be a double-edged sword. A lot of people here seem to be missing that point.

On the other hand, if you always toe the line drawn by the tyranny of the majority you'll always be safe, right? I mean, the majority is always right, isn't it?
posted by hadashi at 10:48 AM on March 26, 2002


i suppose i should have been clearer; i think that the slippery slope argument itself is a fallacy. it relies on assurances that things will happen; that if A should happen that C will necessarily occur, though you have not and cannot demonstrate so directly. it's a convenient argument, but i don't think it's a good one.

billman:

Otherwise, some judge with a wild hair up is butt one day can decide that allowing your children to use a cell phone produces risk of brain cancer so off your kid goes to the foster care system.

i have always thought that is why the apellate courts and the supreme courts exist, billman.
posted by moz at 10:51 AM on March 26, 2002


jkaczor:

does that govermnent not become as culpable as the manufacturers?

See, I was actually thinking about that when I first read this thread. The state and federal government are circling around like vultures over Phillip Morris, RJR, etc. but I wonder what might happen if one of the tobacco companies could prove that the US government had done studies showing that cigarettes were harmful. Wouldn't they also become defendents in all of these multi-billion dollar lawsuits? You bet your ass the government would back down real fast and pass some sort of legislation saying that it couldn't be sued.

Actually, I don't agree that there is anything wrong with alcohol, tobacco, or a laundry list of other substances being sold. We're adults and we should be able to make adult choices as to whether we wish to enjoy these things (hopefully in moderation). If the government does tax cigarettes, it should use the money to fund treatment centers for those who wish to quit instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on stupid ads telling us that cigarette companies are evil, wicked people who want to kill you. We know cigarettes are harmful. People either have no desire to quit or want to quit and can't. Those who want to quit should be given treatment paid for by the taxes being paid on the cigarettes.

moz:

apellate courts and the supreme courts exist

I guess the victory will be that much sweeter five years later by the time you've made your way through the judicial process spending $250,000 in attorney fees. Of course, your kid is likely to have fallen behind in school because of the emotinal distractions, have some sort of substance abuse problem, and possibly even been the victim of rape or abuse by the foster parents or another child in the protective services system, but you can erase all of that with an successful appeal, right?

The problem, moz, is that unless you define some bounderies, it's always a case of guilty until proven innocent. The children get taken away TODAY!!!! You have to go to court and prove you're not the evil person that you're being accused of being. If you fail to do that, bye-bye to your kid. Granted, the courts may allow grandparents or other relatives to take custody until you can prove you're not a bad parent but even then, you're still talking $5,000, $10,000 maybe $15,000 in attorney fees because some judge made a bad decision. And that's on top of the attorney fees you're paying to defend yourself against something that isn't illegal.
posted by billman at 11:03 AM on March 26, 2002


Because she is poisoning the child.

Nuff said.
posted by rushmc at 11:15 AM on March 26, 2002


Keep in mind that allowing the state to intrude into the home like this can be a double-edged sword. A lot of people here seem to be missing that point.

I've lived in "semi-socialist" Canada for all my life. Frankly the state intrudes quite a bit here. But, in the last 5 years the balance is shifting. Our state is becoming less intrusive than our nearest neighbour (re: "war on drugs", DCMA, recent legislative changes due to 9/11, etc).

Yes it is a double-edged sword. If the state pays the medical bills, and controls substances such as "firearms, tobacco and alcohol", then the state "in theory" already has control.

If you don't like it, leave, find somewhere "more free". Or work against the system (I leave that undefined, look to your own history for specific examples.)
posted by jkaczor at 11:22 AM on March 26, 2002


Or work against the system

Yeah, go find some kid, lock them in your apartment or car (clambake, dude!), and smoke a carton. That'll show 'em!
posted by adampsyche at 11:24 AM on March 26, 2002


We're adults and we should be able to make adult choices. . . - billman

I've always found this kind of statement to be entirely ridiculous. It should be obvious to everybody that adults make very stupid choices every day. Just because adults are supposedly mature does not make them entitled to make decisions for themselves and others. As far as things go, cigarette smoking is one of the lesser evils that we've decided to commit upon ourselves. Let's look at heroin, vodka, fast driving, deforestation, guns, atomic bombs, etc., etc., yada yada. Now some of those are really stupid, but they're okay because a bunch of adults somewhere said it's okay.
posted by ashbury at 11:33 AM on March 26, 2002


Ah, the tyranny of the medically aware, child-protecting, thin-skinned, persnickety, moral fussbudgets of the country takes another giant leap forward.

Cigarettes: legal. Make them illegal or treat them like every other legally sold product. Make up your damn minds. They are already one of the only products sold legally that are required to put a big warning ON the product telling you that you shouldn't USE the product.

I do not like the way the house smells when my mother prepares liver and onions. Or most meat dishes, since I don't eat meat. Arguably, meat is bad for you. Should I apprise my mother of her precarious legal standing? foldy, these questions are mostly rhetorical :) Should I ask her not to make these dishes when I come over? Or should I haul her ass into court and make the judge order her never to cook meat again in her house?

And the fact that if they were still married this would be a non-issue merely underscores its ludicrosity. If you want to make smoking illegal (and you do! you do! So many of you...) then elect someone who will do that. If you can't elect someone who will do that, then it is clearly not a publicly mandated priority and so get over it.

You think there's something more than this going on here? That the kid has some other reason for not wanting to go there? Hmmm?
posted by umberto at 11:37 AM on March 26, 2002


We're adults and we should be able to make adult choices. . . - billman

Except when your choices directly impact someone else's health. Except when you are responsible for protecting, educating and raising that person.

As Oliver Wendell Holmes said "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins".
posted by jkaczor at 11:48 AM on March 26, 2002


This has nothing to do with telling a parent they can't eat meat or do some other innocuous thing. Those making that comparison are fear-mongering and arguing against a straw man that this court ruling certainly has nothing to do with.

An imaginary analogue would be the courts telling the parent to stop speeding in her car while not wearing a seatbelt, or stop forcing the kid to free-solo rock climb or something. The parent is forcing something that is more than allegedly dangerous on her kid, and more than that, against the wishes of the kid himself (not to mention the father).
posted by mikel at 11:52 AM on March 26, 2002


Can someone please argue against this ruling without bringing up another issue, such as meat or car fumes or Doritos? Can someone argue against this specific ruling, which simply allows this kid to say, No, Ma, I have the right not to visit you while you smoke around me? Enough with the far-reaching crap that has been spewed here. It seems that every argument against this ruling is "well, why don't we make cigs illegal!" or "hey, i don't like it when you wear GREEN! you can't do it anymore!"

Cigarettes: legal. Make them illegal or treat them like every other legally sold product.

Gee, that said a lot. Alcohol is legal, but there are restrictions...if your use of something adversely affects the health of someone else, then it no longer becomes the case of your freedom to do that act. Do that act without infringing on others, then I think the world could care less at that point.
posted by adampsyche at 11:57 AM on March 26, 2002


i think that the slippery slope argument itself is a fallacy. it relies on assurances that things will happen; that if A should happen that C will necessarily occur, though you have not and cannot demonstrate so directly. it's a convenient argument, but i don't think it's a good one.


This is correct, in the case of almost everything except personal meddling by the powers-that-be.

Gradual, intellectually reasonable intrusions are where it starts.

Video cameras in our bedrooms are where it ends up.
posted by glenwood at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2002


I have the right not to visit you while you smoke around me? Enough with the far-reaching crap that has been spewed here.

And enough of the taking EVERY issue to court. The kid has spoken - "quit smoking or I won't visit you anymore". Why did we need a state to confirm his decision? Either way, if the mom wants to visit her son, she has to stop smoking.
posted by glenwood at 12:05 PM on March 26, 2002


Really? Gee, thanks, guess that makes up for why most of my childhood was spent in hospitals, with specialists who had to deal with my lungs, and the blood I constantly coughed up.

jkaczor, there are millions of people who intentionally suck on cigarrettes and inhale the smoke directly into their lungs, and who don't cough up blood. Some of them do it 20 times a day for 50 years without even getting sick. Your experience is hardly typical of exposure to second hand smoke.

Except when your choices directly impact someone else's health. Except when you are responsible for protecting, educating and raising that person.

Bullshit. Except in cases of blatant abuse or neglect, people are allowed to raise their children in whatever environment they choose. What we're arguing is whether smoking near a child creates an abusive environment. Given the sparcity of evidence, I think that's quite a stretch.
posted by jpoulos at 12:05 PM on March 26, 2002


Can someone please argue against this ruling without bringing up another issue, such as meat or car fumes or Doritos?

Searching for precedence and analogous situations is a perfectly valid form of debate.

Can someone argue against this specific ruling, which simply allows this kid to say, No, Ma, I have the right not to visit you while you smoke around me?

The fact is that the kid doesn't have that right. You don't have the right to choose your parents, and you don't have the right to make your parents behave the way you want them to. There is no evidence that the child is suffering any ill-effects from the smoking, and so arguing that the parent has to change simply because "cigarrettes are bad" is total BS.

Enough with the far-reaching crap that has been spewed here.

I think my analogies have been anything but far-reaching. You want to limit this to the case at hand so that you can say: "I think it's right because it's right." That's not how things work. Show me how the child is being harmed by the smoke.
posted by jpoulos at 12:14 PM on March 26, 2002


jpoulos:

Some of them do it 20 times a day for 50 years without even getting sick.

Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Each year, more than 400,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking. In fact, one in every five deaths in the United States is smoking related. Every year, smoking kills more than 276,000 men and 142,000 women.

Tobacco use results in an annual cost of more than $50 billion in direct medical costs.

Each year, smoking kills more people than AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires — combined!

Nationally, smoking results in more than 5 million years of potential life lost each year.

Source:
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/

Your experience is hardly typical of exposure to second hand smoke.

Annually, exposure to secondhand smoke (or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS)) causes an estimated 3,000 deaths from lung cancer among American adults.

Yeah, I guess it's not typical.

ETS is classified as a Group A carcinogen (known to cause cancer in humans) under the EPA's carcinogen assessment guidelines. Exposure to ETS causes lung cancer and has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease in nonsmokers.

ETS causes serious respiratory problems in children, such as greater number and severity of asthma attacks and lower respiratory tract infections. ETS exposure increases the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and middle ear infections for children.

Cotinine is a major metabolite of nicotine. Exposure to nicotine can be measured by analyzing the cotinine levels in the blood, saliva, or urine. Since nicotine is highly specific for tobacco smoke, serum cotinine levels track exposure to tobacco smoke and its toxic constituents.

Children and teenagers, 3-19 years old, had higher levels of cotinine than did adults, 20 years old and above.

Given the sparcity of evidence, I think that's quite a stretch.

Those most affected by secondhand smoke are children. Because their bodies are still developing, exposure to the poisons in secondhand smoke puts children in danger of severe respiratory diseases and can hinder the growth of their lungs. On top of that, the effects can last a lifetime.

Source:
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/

Hey, isn't that the "Center for Disease Control"? Maybe they have some evidence, eh?

If I beat my child, and cause brain damage, "the effects can last a lifetime", no?
posted by jkaczor at 12:19 PM on March 26, 2002


>>Obvious? You are ingesting chemicals, and spewing them in a very concentrated manner to those around you. Not harmful? Ever close yourself in a room with paint fumes? Or solder some leads in a non-ventillated environment? DO you believe chemicals and foreign substances are actually GOOD for people?<<

Excuse me while I guzzle another pint of dihydrogen monoxide with trace amounts of magnesium sulfate, potassium chloride and sodium chloride for flavoring.

Granted, your point of that secondhand smoke is a bad thing is really good. However please don't make a mistake of shouting "chemicals are bad for you."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:20 PM on March 26, 2002


No, Ma, I have the right not to visit you while you smoke around me?

The issue here is whether the courts have the right to order her to not smoke when she is not around the kid, or risk cutting off access to her child. That is what I am arguing about, at any rate.

the youth is not allergic to tobacco smoke and doesn't suffer from a health condition, such as asthma, that would be worsened by it.

If she is not smoking around him then this is an issue of him not liking the smell ("He said his mother's house reeked."), in which case drawing similar analogies is not 'far-reaching crap'.

If this is merely -as some have suggested- a case of teen/parental embarassment ("Nicholas was ashamed that his mother was a smoker...") then this is a highly viscous slope indeed.
posted by umberto at 12:22 PM on March 26, 2002


jpoulos

Crying about "sparcity" of evidence when it's all around you, and easily accessable is being either:

a) ignorant, un-educated and un-interested.

b) willfully ignorant, un-educated and un-interested.

I am no more for outlawing cigarettes than alcohol. Heck, I'm all for legalizing other things.

However, things become different when abuse of a substance, behaviour or activity endangers children who "don't have the right to choose their parents, and don't have the right to make their parents behave the way they want them to".

Gee, courts enforce non-visitation rights of the child for parents who are physically abusive, don't they? What constitutes physical abuse? Hmm, what about mental abuse? Courts enfore that, even though there is a "sparcity" of evidence, eh?
posted by jkaczor at 12:27 PM on March 26, 2002


The issue here is whether the courts have the right to order her to not smoke when she is not around the kid, or risk cutting off access to her child. That is what I am arguing about, at any rate.

That I can agree with, what you do in the privacy of your own home, without affecting others, should be entirely within your domain.

I also agree, that the "house reeking" does NOT constitute ETS.

So, I guess I've been arguing for a hypothetical cause. Oh well, nice waste of a morning/afternoon.
posted by jkaczor at 12:30 PM on March 26, 2002


jkaczor:

You just spouted a whole shitload of evidence that does nothing to disprove my statement: "Some of them do it 20 times a day for 50 years without even getting sick."

You then spouted some more evidence that has nothing to do with children exposed to second hand smoke, which does nothing to disprove my statement: "Your experience is hardly typical of exposure to second hand smoke."

You then quote an assertion made by the CDC and quip (with unnecessary snarkiness, I might add) "Maybe they have some evidence, eh?". Maybe they do, I don't know. You certainly didn't quote any.

Smoking causes cancer. Yes, I know this. Smoking causes heart disease and emphysema. Yes, I know this. Smoking kills people. Yes, I know this.

Cigarrettes Are Bad. We know this. Aside from that, what's your point? And how does the fact that cigarrettes are bad nullify any of the other points I've made here today?
posted by jpoulos at 12:34 PM on March 26, 2002


Hey, sometimes I think if it weren't for hypothetical causes, I'd have no causes at all.
posted by umberto at 12:38 PM on March 26, 2002


Granted, your point of that secondhand smoke is a bad thing is really good. However please don't make a mistake of shouting "chemicals are bad for you."

Ok, ok, I meant:
"ammonia, arsenic, cadmium, nicotene, lead, vanilla, honey, benzene and chocolate".

Now, some of those sound quite delightful... Others, well...

Of course, the following link goes into detail as to why each exist within tobacco/cigarette smoke:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/sci_tech/features/health/tobaccotrial/inacigarette.htm

Most of them are not "added" by the tobacco industry, many are the by-products for the burn...

And yes, chemicals are not necessarily bad for us. But, methinks ingesting burning fumes cannot be the most healthy thing for ones lungs.
posted by jkaczor at 12:40 PM on March 26, 2002


Except when your choices directly impact someone else's health.

Yes, that's why I don't disagree that one should not smoke in the workplace. People have to be there. They do not have the choice to avoid it. However, at least at the bars I go to, I would say that even non-smokers occasionally light up and for the most part, smoke is an expected part of the experience. Ooops, before I go on, I should note that I'm in Ca. where it's illegal to smoke even in bars. The funny part is, some bars tried going "smokeless" and appeal to patrons who did not want to be around smoke . . . but they all went out of business.

So now, one must smoke outside the building. But there is a call for making smokers move at least 20 - 50 feet away from any building entrance so non-smokers do not have to walk through the smoke to get to the entrance.

The point is, at what point do non-smoker rights interfere with smoker rights? I don't smoke so I'm not trying to defend myself here as much as there is a point at which something becomes asinine. When you put gas in your car, you're breathing gasoline fumes which as shown to cause cancer. But we all know that such limited exposure, even over long periods of time (i.e. once a week over 50 years), are unlikely to actually cause cancer in most people. Same goes for the two steps you might have to endure of smoke when entering a building. I'm not arguing that second hand smoke is not dangerous, just not in the 2 or 3 instances per day where you may encounter it for 2 - 5 seconds the chances of lung cancer are probably less than going outside running on a smoggy day in Los Angeles.

ashbury:

I've always found this kind of statement to be entirely ridiculous.

Then you wouldn't mind if we started rounding people up and sending them to fat prisons? What happens if we start thinking unhealthy thoughts? Lobotomize? I know, I'm being a little sarcastac here but the point is that there's a ton of stuff we do every single day that is not "smart". That is not in our own self interests. We eat hot dogs, we drink soda, we don't exersice enough, etc., etc. Smoking does not cause cancer!!! It increases the likelyhood that you will develop cancer. Japan for instance, has one of the highest rates of smokers per capita yet has one of the longest life expectancies. Some people are willing to take the risk based on the pleasure they derive from smoking. Personally, I'm not one of those people but I'm not willing to take away somebody else's right to decide for themsleves because I wouldn't want them to take away my right to scuba dive or sky dive because they felt that the risk was too high. Risk tolerance is subjective. We all set our own limits.

Perhaps we have two different political philosophies but it's none of the governments damn business what I do as long as I do not violate the rights of someone else.
posted by billman at 12:42 PM on March 26, 2002


jkaczor, I'm sorry to see that you coughed up blood and stuff as a kid. That sounds horrific. My father smoked a few packs a day when I was growing up. I have no allergies, don't have asthma; I run 4 miles a day. My heart is in excellent condition. I'm so fit, I'm practically considering a career of costumed crime fighting. Where does that leave us?

I would say up until fairly recently a good percentage, if not the majority, of kids grew up in the home of a smoker. Most of us turned out ok. Second hand smoke is not abuse. It might not be a good idea, but it doesn't seem like grounds to deny a mother from seeing her child.

That being said, it sounds as if you were super sensitive to smoke, and for a child like you, second hand smoke would be abuse. But the child in this case doesn't seem to have any health problems resulting from smoking. His moms house is just stanky.
posted by Doug at 12:43 PM on March 26, 2002


Smoking does not cause cancer!!! It increases the likelyhood that you will develop cancer. - billman

I would look into that denial problem you have.

I agree with most of the arguements here. I don't want the court to mess around with my life any more than the next person, particularily since I lead a very law-abiding and relatively moral life (as far as these things go, at least). In this special case, however, it was put forth that the child did not want to visit with his mother while she smoked in his presence. He had to go to court to achieve that, and he shouldn't have needed to. The way I look at it, the judge merely gave a legal reason for what the boy should have needed only to ask for. The mother was in the wrong.
posted by ashbury at 12:59 PM on March 26, 2002


"You just spouted a whole shitload of evidence that does nothing to disprove my statement: "Some of them do it 20 times a day for 50 years without even getting sick.""

Some people drive 100miles per day, for 20 years and never get into an accident.

It's not very useful to point out the exception rather than the norm. My case was an exception, and not very useful.

However, I do have personal experience in this area, and it DOES affect my opinions. Can't really divide one from the other. Someone who has lost a loved one to gun violence, is probably a little more "pro-gun-control". Experience breeds opinion, which eventually takes action.

"Your experience is hardly typical of exposure to second hand smoke."

Did you read my comment, "Yeah, I guess it's not typical."

You then quote an assertion made by the CDC and quip (with unnecessary snarkiness, I might add) "Maybe they have some evidence, eh?".

Chuckle, I quoted everything directly from the page. "Maybe they do, I don't know." use the URL Luke, the URL...

(unnecessary snarkiness, pluuuueeeeeze, I refer you to: "Bullshit. Except in cases of blatant abuse or neglect", yeah I usually respond to profanity in a non-polite manner, and would certainly expect the same.)

And how does the fact that cigarrettes are bad nullify any of the other points I've made here today?

Points made by jpoulos:
If you hate cigarettes so much, outlaw them. But don't allow them to be sold on every street corner, then punish people for using them.

We agree. Either control something, or don't. Don't play games.

Original:
"The effects of second hand smoke are, despite the propaganda, minimal."
Modified:
"the effects of second hand smoke on children are not nearly as harmful as people make them out to be." Of course it's not healthy for kids to be around smoke. When I was a smoker, years ago, you wouldn't catch me smoking anywhere near my stepson. But the idea that smokers are "slowly poisoning" their children is unfounded, or at least, exaggerated."

Where is your evidence, your sources?

Really, so carbon monoxide which can slowly build up in a home due to underlying environmental conditions and poison the people who live there is unfounded, right? "if I can't see it, must not exist mentality."

I mean, c'mon how can "cigarettes be bad for you" but just you, not the 3 people sitting around you?

Look, either you accept state meddling for unhealthy acts, and therefore ALL potential acts, or you deny it completely.

I don't deny it's a slippery slope, but fact it, you already are well underway. The precedents have been set over the last 20-30 years. In fact, it's just a guessing game of how far down you are going to go.
posted by jkaczor at 1:03 PM on March 26, 2002


Show me how the child is being harmed by the smoke.

That has been shown. It isn't anyone's fault that you chose to ignore the evidence. My father had a lung removed, and the doctors at Columbia Hospital in NYC determined that it was the form of lung cancer that is caused by second hand smoke. He never smoked a day in his life.

The fact is that the kid doesn't have that right. You don't have the right to choose your parents, and you don't have the right to make your parents behave the way you want them to.

The court just said the kid has that right. What is the problem?

Some of them do it 20 times a day for 50 years without even getting sick

There are exceptions to everything. Doesn't prove anything, though. I am just amazed that this woman is fighting so hard for her right to smoke around her kid. Nice priorities.
posted by adampsyche at 1:13 PM on March 26, 2002


Last time to make this point, then I concede that either I have it wrong, or people just don't listen.

In this special case, however, it was put forth that the child did not want to visit with his mother while she smoked in his presence.

What was put forth, on reading the article, was that the mother was forbidden to smoke in her house or car regardless of the child's presence. I agree wholeheartedly that smoking around the child is wrong and stupid. However, I maintain that being legally prohibited from smoking in her house when the child is in residence somewhere else is intrusive, fascistic, meddlesome, and indicative of the severe desire of well-intentioned people to control the thoughts and actions of fellow citizens when no actual harm is being done to anyone.

I am not talking about smoking around the child. That is harm.

I am not talking about abusing the child (other than an extremely labored 'mental abuse' claim that his mother's trashy sensibilities have adversely affected him - that, I am sure, will be a thread of the future.)

I am talking about her right to ingest a legal product in her own home alone with no one around, kept company only by the strong smell of tobacco and the faint whiff of misguided do-gooder justice.
posted by umberto at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2002


My father had a lung removed, and the doctors at Columbia Hospital in NYC determined that it was the form of lung cancer that is caused by second hand smoke. He never smoked a day in his life.

I'm sorry about your father, but either there was a miscommunication, or the doctors were engaging in some idle speculation. It is utterly false that there is a "form of lung cancer caused by second hand smoke" in the sense that they have a special histological category for it. The doctors have no way on earth of knowing what "caused" the lung cancer.
posted by Skot at 1:33 PM on March 26, 2002


just an attempt here to bring this back down to earth: this is a CUSTODY case. It's not a judicial decree that all smokers are bad parents or that courts can now put smokers kids into foster care. Its saying that in THESE circumstances THIS mother has to change her habits or lose visitation rights to the other parents.

Since we can't read the opinion (i checked, it's not published yet) we have no idea of the context that the decision was made in.

this just isn't a big deal. the kid didn't want to live with his mom and the court obliged him in his wishes.
posted by boltman at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2002


oh, and for all you libertarian types, what about the freedom of the kid to choose not to live with a person that he feels is endangering his health?
posted by boltman at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2002


Yeah, boltman, isn't this the sort of thing that happens when you can't get along with the other parent of your child? I believe, for the sake of freedom, that people have the right to fuck up their kids. It's been that way for 1000s of years. But if you and your partner want to split up and fight about what to do with the kid then the state is going to get all up in your stuff.
posted by Wood at 1:47 PM on March 26, 2002


If you don't like it, try cloning.
posted by Wood at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2002


If you don't like it, try cloning.

I did, but now I have a dog with three heads.
posted by billman at 2:25 PM on March 26, 2002


What I find hard to believe is the sheer volume of people willing to let the state continue to mandate how you live your lives...and you seem to think more government interference is a GOOD thing.

I might be able to accept a ruling where the judge said, "no smoking around the spoiled brat who sued you.", but not a ruling which says "you can't continue a legal habit, *even when the child is not around* because it embarrasses sonny-boy."

This was either very badly reported, or the kid is a little monster bent on a power trip, or the vindictive ex-husband found a way to abuse his wife legally, and used your tax dollars to do it...

In any case, the judge overstepped his bounds by not restricting his ruling to 'when the child was in the vicinity'.
posted by dejah420 at 4:19 PM on March 26, 2002


The funny part is, some bars tried going "smokeless" and appeal to patrons who did not want to be around smoke . . . but they all went out of business.

As point of counter-reference, we have a number of bars and restaurants in my town that went smoke-free when the workers' comp board demanded (and, iirc, won a court case) banning it.

Our current provincial government, in an ongoing effort to reduce health care costs, has since introduced legislation that once again allows smoking in bars and restaurants (and at levels that we haven't had in decades!)

Many of our food and drink establishments have chosen to remain smoke-free. They continue to thrive. Up in my part of BC, smoke-free is a money-maker, not a money-loser.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:33 PM on March 26, 2002


what jpoulos said. everything (sorry I showed up late for this one).

To the people who question this ruling on civil liberties/ government intrusion grounds: you are thinking clearly and rationally. But one read through of the comments of your opposition in this thread have lead me to a very sad conclusion. America (and most of the rest of the world) deserves a controlling, intrusive nanny state. They want it, they're begging for it. Sure, everyone thinks that they personally don't need the government telling them what to do and what not to do, but when it comes to other people ... it seems as though the vast majority of human beings have a near singular fixation with telling others what to do. And the only way that they can effectively do that is by giving the State the power to intrude into peoples' lives. If you tell them that the crosshairs will drift in their direction sooner or later they will scoff at you, so consumed with self-righteous fervor that they are unable to contemplate a world where they, the 'good guys,' will have to deal with the kinds of bullshit that they encourage the courts and the lawmakers to inflict on others.

So let them have it. If there was any chance of beating them and their technocrat attack dogs, I'd say fight, but its going to happen sooner or later anyway. Its what they want, its what they deserve, and its what the rational minority will have to endure over and over again until the majority of the human race matures enough to pursue an evolution of society beyond the paradigm of The State.
posted by hipstertrash at 7:20 PM on March 26, 2002


Video cameras in our bedrooms are where it ends up.

One of my favorite family court decisions involved that very step.

It would probably be prudent to have video cameras installed in this woman's house to make certain that she isn't smoking. Or maybe the court will just send an air quality inspector every once in a while to test. Or should the ex-spouse be allowed to spy upon the mother, and report to the judge? Maybe the local homicide department has some free time, and they can hang out with her and make certain that she isn't smoking. Or, she could be supervised by a probation officer.

Should we reward this kid for ratting his mother out? Maybe he can blackmail her into getting him better christmas gifts.
posted by bragadocchio at 7:33 PM on March 26, 2002


They want it, they're begging for it

As a former smoker, I can truthfully say that I am thankful to government for stigmatizing smoking and making it illegal in most public places. If I lived in Europe (or anywhere else where everyone smokes) I would never have been able to quit and then stay quit. Even those tacky commericials were helpful in a sort of subliminal way.

So, members of the "rational minority," how exactly am I irrational for being grateful to the state for helping me kick a nasty habit that was likely to kill me?
posted by boltman at 8:08 PM on March 26, 2002


But one read through of the comments of your opposition in this thread have lead me to a very sad conclusion. America (and most of the rest of the world) deserves a controlling, intrusive nanny state. They want it, they're begging for it.

wow. so, we went from denying a mom her right to smoke if she still wants visitation rights to our desire for a police state. that seems like quite a leap of logic to me; can you demonstrate that leap for me, hipstertrash? i am at a loss.
posted by moz at 8:21 PM on March 26, 2002


The question here is how to manage the point where the rights of the mother to smoke and the rights of the child to not breathe her smoke intersect. This is not dissimilar to many questions brought before family courts; judges are often called upon to manage such personal issues solely because the parties involved are incapable of doing so for themselves. It is the height of selfishness: parents are unwilling to make modifications to their behaviour for their children, and someone has to force the issue.

This is not unusual, nor is this case a first. Judges have had to rule, in other cases, that parents cannot smoke around their kids, cannot drink around them, cannot drive with them in their cars, cannot have sexual companions in the home (or at least overnight) , cannot go to establishments of adult entertainment (bars and/or strip joints) because when asked by their children or former spouses, the parents have refused to do so of their own accord. Best interests of the children were not in their way of thinking, merely their own self interests.

In this case, we have a particularly obnoxious situation -- the mother would have to be extraordinarily deep in denial to be unwilling to accept that her cigarette smoking is not only destructive to her, but bad for her son. Nevertheless, she allowed it to become such an issue that it had to be brought into the courts. She could've stopped. She could've said "I won't smoke when he's with me." She could've said "I'll only smoke outside." Instead she said "I'll do what I want." and had to be told "No, you're a parent, you no longer have the privilege of thinking only about your desires." This is where our family courts are forced to go because there are so many idiots who cannot appropriately govern themselves.

What would've been an appropriate alternative here? Tell the mother "Yeah, it's your legal right to smoke, so you can continue to offend the olefactory senses of your child as well as placing unnecessary artificial toxins into the air." and tell the child that he has to take it? Seems to me that would not only be another egregious case of suggesting that kids have no rights, but it would be a prompty for the kid to say "Fine, I won't see you at all, then" and completely destroy their already damaged relationship. The court was left with the task of coming up with the best solution to attempt to keep this family from falling apart entirely while preserving the kid's health and not completely abridging the mother's rights. If she wanted something better, she should've worked out a reasonable solution with her son before it escalated to this point.
posted by Dreama at 9:48 PM on March 26, 2002


technocrat attack dogs

I don't dig smokes anymore, or anything about them. And while I think this story has been misinterpreted (my dad handled divorce cases - I know a smidgen about this area and Dreama seems spot-on there) . . . Well, that neologism is going to stick with me for a while. Are we talking a non-emotional bark, like a Dukakis-as-canine? Just sits there, stares somewhat blankly and barks in a monotone, what? You ask, Lassie-like, "What's wrong girl?" And the dog just barks and barks and barks for 15 minutes, in that same tone, driving you nuts?

I don't what it is. Something about dogs and "techno" in there, to begin with. Are they robots? Oh, and I take it the free-market conservative/neo-liberal version barks on and on about incentives and even some ludicrously complex, near-indecipherable idea to trade second-hand smoke on the Chicago Board of Trade or something. You have to have a translator on hand, though, to be on your way to understading at all, since the woofing comes out in Japanese subtitles, a la Arnold Ziffel (the pig) in a particularly memorable episode of Green Acres.
posted by raysmj at 10:18 PM on March 26, 2002


Got about halfway through all these comments, and couldn't stand to read more. Here's why: I am the child of a two-smoker household. Now, I love my parents dearly, and wouldn't change a single thing about them -- except that.

Have any of you lived in such a situation? Where your living room looks like a dragon's den, and you can smell ashes through an open car door five feet away? Hell, do any of you have asthma, or, say, have you suffered through three ear infections requiring tubes in the first couple years of your life?

There's a huge difference between allowing or not allowing your child to do something they choose to do, whether that be ingesting hot dogs or what have you, and forcing poisons that they don't want any part of on them.

I did not choose to ruin my lungs. I had no say in the matter. And I would choose no differently today as an adult as I would have as a child. I have never had any desire to touch a cigarette, because of the example that was set for me. Dismissing the kid's complaint as a phase is disingenuous and disrespectful.

I wish I'd had such recourse. (Which, hell, isn't even the thrust of the case!)
posted by e^2 at 12:15 AM on March 27, 2002


The mother and her attorney were just whining on the Today Show -- the ruling does indeed ban the woman from smoking in her home or car, period, and if she does, she loses visitation rights. She went on and on about how she doesn't smoke in the same room as the boy (does that matter?) and whined about civil liberties, but, as might be expected, downplayed the second hand smoke issue and never once suggested that she might consider ending her deadly habit, not only for her own health, but for the sake of her relationship with her own child. My read on her stands -- too selfish to parent without explicit directions from on high as to how to properly conduct herself, and that's a damn shame, because she didn't come across as stupid as she'd have to be to truly not get it to the extent that she seems not to.
posted by Dreama at 4:53 AM on March 27, 2002


hipstertrash--thanks for bringing your arguments to the table and legitimizing the entire thread.

Anyway. My comments still stand regarding this lady. Her priorities are messed up. Enough said. I was operating on the idea that this article was written incompletely, in that I didn't believe that she could not smoke at all in her own home and car. Seeing as how this is the case, it appears as though I was giving out the wrong two cents, and I apologize. IMO, the state has no right in her home when the boy isn't there. Period.

My bad, sorry, sorry.
posted by ashbury at 5:25 AM on March 27, 2002


The doctors have no way on earth of knowing what "caused" the lung cancer.

That's something that neither you nor I seem fit to validate. I am telling you what the doctor's said, and they did tell him that the kind of cancer that he had was a result of years spent in smoky newsrooms before offices went smoke-free. It was the kind of cancer (whether it was placement in the lungs, size, frequency, whatever) that results from the kind of irritation caused by breathing in second-hand smoke. I would love to do some research on this, and I probably will when I get a free minute here at work. I will also ask him when I see him, but it would be premature to just dismiss the doctor's findings as miscommunication. I appreciate your doubts, but I don't think you are qualified to dismiss their claims.

hipstertrash--thanks for bringing your arguments to the table and legitimizing the entire thread.

Well, a discussion about smoking on Metafilter is not complete until hipstertrash shows up. I am surprised it took this long!

wow. so, we went from denying a mom her right to smoke if she still wants visitation rights to our desire for a police state. that seems like quite a leap of logic to me; can you demonstrate that leap for me, hipstertrash? i am at a loss.

A large leap indeed! And I agree with what was mentioned earlier: is this mom too selfish and addicted to maybe GIVE UP her stupid habit for the sake of herself and her kid? Maybe if she just quit, her kid would not have had to fight so hard for the right not to be subjected to her smoking? If she is so addicted to smoking in her house (when I smoked, I didn't smoke in my house or car anyhow...it stank) that she can't make a simple adjustment for the sake of her kid? Like, smoking OUTSIDE? Who woulda thunk it? It is a shame that the courts did have to step into this, but a little courtesy on the part of the mom in this case maybe could have prevented this whole mess.
posted by adampsyche at 6:05 AM on March 27, 2002


Second-hand smoke is a complex mix of over 4,000 substances, of which more than 42 individual mainstream components are known to cause cancer in humans and animals, and many of which are strong irritants.3 Sidestream smoke contains many of the same substances found in mainstream smoke, including a host of carcinogenic agents.4

For more than 30 years, the U.S. Surgeon General's reports, based on strong scientific evidence, have identified tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke as serious public health hazards. In 1986, reports by both the U.S. National Research Council and the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer in adult non-smokers, and that children of parents who smoke have an increased frequency of respiratory symptoms and acute lower respiratory tract infections, as well as evidence of reduced lung function.5, 6 These facts were confirmed and strengthened by the 1992 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assessment of the health effects of second-hand smoke.7

I don't even know how anyone can minimize the harm here.
posted by adampsyche at 6:13 AM on March 27, 2002


Damn! forgot the link
posted by adampsyche at 6:14 AM on March 27, 2002


That's something that neither you nor I seem fit to validate. I am telling you what the doctor's said, and they did tell him that the kind of cancer that he had was a result of years spent in smoky newsrooms before offices went smoke-free. It was the kind of cancer (whether it was placement in the lungs, size, frequency, whatever) that results from the kind of irritation caused by breathing in second-hand smoke.

I work in cancer research. There is no way at all to establish the fundamental, root cause of any type of cancer. One can evaluate risk and circumstance, but determining causation is, at this point, impossible. The doctors may have speculated that hanging out in smoky newsrooms could have been a factor, but so could owning a wood stove, living in an urban environment, proximity to certain industries, a penchant for huffing glue, being an avid painter (all those fumes) or horrible dumb bad luck. There are people who smoke for 50 years and never get lung cancer. There are people who smoke for two years and do. There are people who smoke for fifteen years and get, say, myeloma, which doesn't seem to have anything to do with cigarettes, or, fuck, maybe it does. Nobody knows.

(I am being heavy-handed with my examples for illustrative purposes, not ascribing any of these situations to Adam's father, please realize.)
posted by Skot at 7:57 AM on March 27, 2002


Slippery slope arguments against government intrusion do not apply here at all. The parents demonstrated their inability to be a properly functioning family by requesting that the legal system take charge and redefine their family through divorce proceedings.

They invited the courts in.

Once they admitted their failure as the leaders of a family, the state was forced to intervene in the rearing of the child, forced by the parents voluntary actions specifically asking the courts to get involved.

This ruling is not a slippery slope because there is nowhere to slide. The court has all the power, and it was given to the court by the parents. If they don't like what the court does, then too damn bad because it was their failure that brought the courts in to it, and brought it in at their own request.
posted by NortonDC at 5:21 PM on March 27, 2002


I believe, for the sake of freedom, that people have the right to fuck up their kids.

What a bizarre separation, as if kids were merely property, not people, with the associated inherent rights.
posted by rushmc at 1:29 AM on March 29, 2002


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