Mom Banned from Smoking Near Kid

smoking-womanTo most of us, it’s common sense. But it took a court to tell Rachael Hill she couldn’t smoke around her kid. And an appeals court just upheld their ruling.

Hill only has visitation rights to see her daughter. Victoria Anderson lives with her paternal great-grandparents, while her divorced parents visit. It was great-grandma who complained that the girl returned from visits reeking of cigarette smoke. She won the right to keep Victoria smoke free late last year.

So mom appealed – on her right to smoke.

And an Ohio appeals court has decided her right to smoke is superseded by her kid’s right to breathe.

And that applies even though Victoria has no condition at the moment from her mom’s smoking – the point, the court has affirmed, is to prevent her from developing a condition from exposure to secondhand smoke.

As a non-smoker raised in a smoking household, I didn’t have that right. I now suffer from asthma, exacerbated by cold weather (which, considering I live in New York State, is a fairly frequent phenomena) but linked back to life with a smoker during the years when my lungs were forming.

Studies have since shown links between secondhand smoke and heart conditions in toddlers, nicotine dependence in kids and harm to their intellectual abilities. That doesn’t even touch on the respiratory risks or the big one – cancer. So why the fight on Hill’s part? She knows she’s hurting her kid, right?

Hill says this isn’t about smoking at all. She’s willing to step outside when her kid is in her home. But she doesn’t want the courts inside her house, she says – she thinks it’s an intrusion.

An intrusion it might be, but in custody situations a court is involved. They have jurisdiction over other health hazards presented to kids – a lack of heat and running water, for example. Is smoking any different?

Image: Valentin Ottone via flickr

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