Smokers Should Lose Custody Of Their Kids, Says Nation’s Top Anti-Tobacco Lawyer

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Parents who smoke around their kids should be challenged for custody, according to the country’s leading anti-tobacco lawyer.

John F. Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University Law School and founder of Action on Smoking and Health, touted the proposal at the North American Regional Conference of the International Society for Family Law Monday.

Banzhaf also proposed requiring doctors to file complaints of child abuse against parents whose kids turn up at the emergency room with respiratory problems as a result of their parents’ smoking.

The conference, which played host to the nation’s leading divorce and family lawyers, was urged to use legal means to ban smoking when foster children are in a house or car, and to “punish parents or others who smoke when children are in the car.”

“‘With great power comes great responsibility’ is more than a catch-phrase from a Spiderman movie,” Banzhaf told the conference.

Attendees were instructed how to inject parental smoking in custody proceedings and how to deny custody to parents who smoke. Banzhaf explained several cases where parents lost custody of their kids because they smoked.

Banzhaf argued doctors could be sued for medical malpractice if they don’t file complaints of suspected child abuse when parental smoking causes problems for their child.

“We, as attorneys, probably have greater power than other professionals to right wrongs, and to change society for the better, because we can use the tremendous power of law for the public good rather than just to benefit paying clients. And you, as family attorneys, can and should be using the great power of law to right serious wrongs being done to children,” Banzhaf told the conference.

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