While the ill effects of smoking are well documented, it appears that for smokers dealing with child custody matters there is another major drawback. Many states, like California, now take whether a parent smokes or not into consideration when determining child custody and visitation matters.
For several years, courts have been making judgments related to custody matters against parents who smoke. For example court orders have been issued preventing a parent from smoking around a child or even in their own vehicles or homes. Some courts even consider if people who smoke, whether it be a grandparent or friend, are more likely to come into contact with a child if they are in the care of one parent. Additionally, courts in 18 states have outright admitted that smoking is a determining factor when deciding child custody cases.
In one recent case, a mother who smoked lost custody of her child who had asthma after it was discovered she had been smoking around her child. The court ruled the mother had "insufficient concern" for her child and a modification to custody followed.
In an attempt to gain or alter child custody, many non-smoking parents are using the fact that their former spouse or individuals he or she associates with, smoke. While some believe courts are going too far and infringing on an individual's civil rights, others contend that the rulings are only meant to serve the best interests of the child.
Obviously, smoking is bad for your health and the health of those around you that are subjected to second-hand smoke. While whether a parent smokes or not is not necessarily a determining factor in if they are a good or fit parent, the potential for losing or having child custody modified should be enough to make many parents think twice before lighting up.
Source: The Washington Times, "Smokers losing child custody cases a growing trend," Myra Fleischer, Feb. 21, 2012