UK Couple Denied Adoption Opportunity Because of E-Cigarette

With over 69,000 children in custody of the authorities in England, you would think officials would be desperately searching for adoptive families to offer kids a permanent home. However, it seems that some parents are being denied the opportunity to adopt simply because they use electronic cigarettes. This week, news broke about a couple that was in the process of adopting when they were denied the chance to receive a child because the husband was spotted vaping by a social worker.

Social workers told the couple that they would not be qualified to take a child until both of the adults had been ecig free for a full year. The devastated pair had already spent thousands of dollars on failed fertility treatments and they were shocked to find out once again that their hopes for a child would not be realized. Though they chose to remain anonymous apart from pseudonyms “Abigail” and “Brian”, they did release a statement: “When there are so many children desperate for a family and a stable home, to put up such trivial barriers is ridiculous.”

Staffordshire County is not the only place in England where vapers are not allowed to adopt. There are 13 other councils in England that prohibit ecig users from being foster parents or adopting. Brian said they contacted the council to begin the adoption process in December 2013 and consecutive visits with social workers included no mentions of ecig restrictions. In the early part of their adoption proceedings, Brian was a casual smoker, but as they anticipated a new child, he committed to stop using tobacco and relied on e-cigarettes to make the transition.

After nine months of interviews, medical screenings, and financial evaluations, authorities said Brian and Abigail were capable of raising a child and everything was going along smoothly. But then a social worker saw Brian vaping and everything turned upside down. The social worker essentially shut down the adoption proceedings and told them that the council would not place young children with smokers or with anyone that had used and ecig within the past year. “Should you both become non smokers/e-smokers over a 12-month period, then you could of course reapply,” she explained.

With no scientific data to show that secondhand ecig vapor is dangerous, the social worker’s decision seems outlandish. Public Health England has publicly said, “The health risks of passive exposure to electronic cigarette vapour are… likely to be extremely low.” But that isn’t enough to help Brian and Abigail who are being denied the opportunity to have children.

Abigail said the council was being unreasonable. “It made us feel judged and worthless, that you are a lesser person if you smoke e-cigarettes. They seem to be seeking adopters who are perfect. But we are like lots of ordinary families.”

Robert West, the director of tobacco studies at University College London, called the rule “badly thought out” and said it could cause “significant harm” to families and society. He said policy makers needed to do their homework rather than relying on basic misconceptions about electronic cigarettes.

Do you think it is unfair to prevent a couple from adopting simply because they use electronic cigarettes?

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