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As of January 2012, smokers from a north-east London borough will not be able to foster children unless there are "exceptional circumstances". The ban was passed by Redbridge councillors who voted unanimously in favour of the policy.

The reason behind the ban is a desire to protect children from the damaging effects of passive and second-hand smoke.
However, the Fostering Network now worries that the policy could prevent good people from becoming foster parents.

It is true that some people may feel that the ban is a sort of an intrusion on personal freedoms, but still smoking is known to increases the risk of serious illness in childhood.

The national charity Fostering Network agrees that this is a good move in terms of creating a smoke-free environment for children but fear that a blanket ban on any smokers becoming foster parent may not be the right attitude.
The new policy was the result of scientific evidence that linked second-hand smoke to the lung cancer and childhood respiratory disease. Young children are particularly susceptible to the effects of second-hand smoke due to their small lungs and airways and immature immune systems. Additionally, the risk of cot death, asthma, middle ear disease, pneumonia and bronchitis increases if children live in homes where people smoke.

All new applicants to the foster care programme will be informed at an early stage that they will not be able to foster if they smoke and the existing foster carers who smoke will be offered help to give up the habit.

A spokesperson for the smokers' rights group Forest argues that this decision discriminates against plenty of people who would have made excellent foster carers and that it could turn to be damaging not only for the foster families but also for the children that they would have fostered.

The plans met with mixed reactions from foster carers before the vote, however the majority of fostered children consulted previously were in favour of the policy.

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I am thrilled to learn of such a ban. There are obvious pros and cons for such a ban. It would be nice if smokers who desire to foster can be persuaded to quit smoking. You Brits have gone a long way in promoting the health and well-beings of your citizenry. I would love to see a similar ban in the United States. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry has a very powerful lobby in both houses of Congress, and our new president-elect Barack Obama is a life-long smoker. So I don't see this happening in the forseeable future. Your well-written article is going to make me happy for the rest of the day.
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I'm glad I made your day :-)

It's a good debate topic and I too hope that the ban will make at least some people quit smoking.
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