Foster Parenting and Smoking – Setting an Example

Setting a healthy and positive example for the children you are fostering is imperative, especially when it comes to tobacco use. Smoking kills 7 times more than drugs and alcohol combined, annually.

white family with adopted black little boy

A foster parent is more than a caregiver. Foster parents, whether the organizers of a group home or individuals maintaining a certified private home, must ascertain the emotional condition of the child or children, help them to make peace with their lives, and help them to find happiness in their current situations. Depending on the circumstances of them needing to be placed within foster care, there may be some emotional strains that need to be addressed. Setting positive examples, like avoiding smoking, could have a lasting impact on the child. These positives accumulate and combine to create a rewarding experience on behalf of both, the child and the foster parent.

The Importance of Positive Examples

Those involved with foster care understand the importance of setting good examples, teaching life lessons, and helping to shape the lives of the children in need. A child who needs foster care has usually faced a situation where they have been orphaned or removed from their natural parents or guardians. These children may have been neglected, homeless, abused, or may have lost their parents in some form of tragedy, or another life changing event. In any case, these children are in need of structure, kindness, and positive life lessons. This includes keeping them away from situations that may form bad habits, such as drug and alcohol abuse, and smoking.

According to a study issued by the University of Washington, children who are raised by smokers are more than twice as likely to smoke as those who are raised by non-smokers. The startling projection is that these children are more likely to begin experimenting with smoking cigarettes between the ages of 13 and 21 years of age. While keeping an eye out for adverse behavior associated with drug and alcohol use, foster parents are urged to watch out for signs of using tobacco products, as well.

Forming Habits

When an individual is placed under stress, emotional strain, or emotional pain, one may begin looking for a way out. A crutch is usually formed as a coping mechanism. It is formed as a way to escape or to balance emotional suffering in an atmosphere where there is seemingly nowhere to turn. In these cases, drug abuse or alcohol consumption is usually the first things that comes to mind. They are more watched for. However, smoking is more dangerous, more addictive, more lethal, and easier to access. It is also more accepted and more easily overlooked.

Many understand the dangers of smoking on a smaller scale, but many do not understand that smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths each and every year. According to the CDC, cigarettes cause about one in five deaths each year in the United States. That adds up to well over 450,000 deaths a year. This includes second-hand smoke exposure, which adds to the death toll. Drug and alcohol abuse combined leads to approximately 63,000 deaths. This is a difference of nearly 390,000 more deaths caused by smoking and second-hand smoke. This also does not account for the more than 8 million people suffering from diseases caused by direct smoking, as well as second and third-hand smoke exposure.


In light of these statistics, foster parents are urged to set examples that will reflect the current stability the child craves. As foster parents come together as a community, we are better equipped to share information, learn from one another, and become more suited to address each area of concern when it comes to the children who matter the most. These children need to be guided through the difficulties associated with growing up. They need to understand the dangers associated with smoking, and the importance of avoiding it. If you are a foster parent and you currently smoke, quitting now may not only save your life and improve your health – it may save the life of the one you are trying to help right now.

Published: July 8, 2015



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