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Did you know that every year approximately 440,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses in the United States?  To put things into perspective:

That= 1,200 people a day, the equivalent of three full-capacity jumbo jets crashing every single day on U.S. soil.

Tobacco use remains the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States.

Left untreated, 60 percent of smokers will die from this deadly habit. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking kills more people than:

+Homicide,

+Suicide,

+Car Accidents,

+Alcohol,

+Cocaine,

+Heroin,

+Fires and

+AIDS

=   COMBINED

If the above statistics are still not enough to encourage a journey toward smoking cessation, how about the fact that one’s bad habit could cause them to lose custody of their child(ren).

That’s right: No judge or court has ever ruled that subjecting a child to tobacco smoke should be ignored in deciding custody.  In fact, at least 18 state courts have ruled that a parent’s tobacco smoking habits should be considered in deciding custody and courts in at least 12 states have decided that judges may deny custody to a parent who exposes his or her child(ren) to tobacco smoke.

While there is good news that more people are quitting smoking now, than ever before,  the fact remains that 50-75% of children whose parents smoke become smokers themselves.  Additionally, according to the Washington Times, a new study conducted by Dr. Joseph R Difranza, on the health effects second-hand tobacco smoke has on children,revealed that each year smoking in the home:

  1. Kills almost 300 children,

  2. Seriously injures 300 more,

  3. Causes more than 300,000 new cases of asthma,

  4. Causes over 350,000 ear infections (including 5,200 ear operations),

  5. Causes at least 14,000 other operations, and

  6. Makes four million children sick enough to require a visit to a doctor

Even before the release of this study, family courts already began to take action in effort to stop parents from exposing their children to smoke.  In child custody cases, courts determine the legal custody and residential arrangements according to what’s in the “best interest of the child(ren).” This includes medical health.  In thousands of cases, courts have issued orders:

  • Prohibiting smoking in the presence of a child, especially in cars.

  • Prohibiting smoking in a home 24-48 hours before the child arrives to visit.

  • Taking custody from parents or reducing visitation because they subjected a child to tobacco smoke.

If smoking parents didn’t have a compelling enough reason to stop smoking before, possible loss of custody of their children should at least lead them toward the idea of quitting.

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