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June 25, 2013 permalink
The attack on smokers by seizing their children has spread to Scotland.
Parents warned they could face court for lighting up at home in front of kids
LEGAL experts last night blasted a sheriff’s ‘nanny state’ meddling — after he ruled a mum was risking her kids’ lives by SMOKING.
Sheriff Scott Pattison claimed the mother-of-three’s ciggie habit showed a “lack of parental care” during a hearing into the youngsters’ welfare.
He referred the case at Ayr Sheriff Court to the Children’s Panel — where the woman could now face LOSING her kids.
But his decision has sparked fears of a massive rise in meddling by authorities, which could land more Scots parents in the dock.
Sara Matheson, a Glasgow University lecturer and partner in MTM Family Law firm, said: “There has been a move towards greater state interference.
“Three years ago there was a suggestion obese children could be taken into care — this is a similar step.
“Worst case scenario would be the children taken into care, but it’s more likely there will be social work intervention to try and stop the mother from smoking.”
Last night another insider said the legal system could be ROCKED by the move.
The source said: “This is the first finding of its kind I, or any other lawyer I’ve spoken to, has heard of. The implications are enormous.”
Sheriff Pattison ruled the smoker — who cannot be named for legal reasons — breached the Children Scotland Act 1995.
Social workers said her youngsters’ clothes smelled of cigs at their Ayrshire home — and also voiced other major concerns.
It could now decide if the mum is fit enough to keep her children, or if they should be removed.
The law says “compulsory supervision” may be needed if kids are “likely to suffer unnecessarily or be impaired seriously in their health and development due to lack of parental care”.
Retired Edinburgh University law professor Robert Black also told of his shock at the decision. He said: “It’s surprising, since the act has been in force for so long, there hasn’t been a similar ruling in the past.”
And worried politicians claim the case proves the state is getting too involved in family life.
Ayrshire MP Brian Donohoe said: “I hope there is a reality check when it comes before the panel and the wider picture’s taken into account.
“Not just the fact this woman likes a cigarette — but is she a loving mother?”
Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw claimed the ruling risked going “ludicrously overboard”.
He said: “Is this what things have come to, authorities having to peep through living room curtains to see if children and tobacco are sharing the same room?”
A South Ayrshire Council spokeswoman said their “priorities are the care, safety and well-being” of kids.
The Judicial Office for Scotland said the proceedings were held in private.
Last month Lib Dem MSP Jim Hume launched plans to make it illegal for people to puff in cars with kids.
It's drastic... but tots are at risk
IT sounds a bit drastic to take a mum to court for smoking in front of her kids and one might expect the legal system to show more common sense here.
But parents need common sense too and should put children’s needs before their own selfish habits.
Second-hand smoke harms the delicate lining of a child’s airways and raises the risk of a huge number of conditions including cot death, asthma, pneumonia, ear infections and deafness.
It’s even linked with life-threatening infections like meningitis and septicaemia.
And as you’d expect, kids of smokers are much more likely to become smokers themselves — even if parents don’t care about their own wellbeing they should set a good example.
Some parents think it’s enough to open the window after they’ve had a ciggie but studies show that tobacco smoke lingers for well over two hours.
It also persists on clothing. Research suggests this can be released later, for instance when cuddling a young child.
So smoking in a different room to the children isn’t the answer either.
Don't split up families over cigs
WHILE we are unable to comment on individual cases we believe the best place for children to be is usually with their parents.
And we are against the idea of removing them from their families only because of smoking.
That said, tobacco smoke is a risk to children’s health. It is harmful and increases the chances of various illnesses and cot death — so we encourage parents and carers not to smoke around kids.
ASH Scotland would like to see support for families to voluntarily make their homes smoke-free.
We have produced a website giving advice and information to mums and dads who wish to do that at www.refreshproject.org.uk.
Many parents involved in our Refresh project were surprised by how long the harmful but invisible parts of smoke linger.
Many were trying to protect their children by smoking in another room or by opening a window, but that doesn’t eliminate the risk from second-hand smoke.
Going outside of the home to light up, if possible, is the best thing to do.
Source: Scottish Sun