Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Loco Parentis

City Room is reporting that the state senate is poised to pass a law criminalizing smoking in a car with children under the age of 14: "State lawmakers on Wednesday were on the verge of passing legislation that would make it illegal for occupants of a car to smoke if there are children on board younger than 14. New York would join a handful of states with similar laws.The law would carry a maximum fine of $100 fine for those who are caught, said Senator Toby Ann Stavisky, a Democrat from Queens, who sponsored the bill."

While they're at it, why don't they eliminate the inconvenience of parenthood as well. Since when does the state need to act as a big brother for all of New York's children? Once it is seen as appropriate for the state to act in loco parentis on this issue, there is no limit to the number of issues-for the good of the children, of course-that would demand legal intrusion.

The state's role is to act as an educator and an information disseminator. Intruding on the relationship between parents and their children in this manner opens up a real can of worms-and cedes to the public power way too much authority-and this is from someone who lived for twenty years with a parent who not only smoked, but died of lung cancer at the age of 62!

Second hand smoke may have some dangerous consequences-although we have our doubts about the extent to which it is -see the 1998 WHO study that could find no correlation between second hand smoke and lung cancer. As the study found: "On March 8, 1998, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported "The world's leading health organization has withheld from publication a study which shows that not only might there be no link between passive smoking and lung cancer but that it could have even a protective effect."

And what about the children? "The press release doesn't mention the one statistically significant result from the study, that children raised by smokers were 22% less likely to get lung cancer."

So, in our view, to use the danger of second hand smoke as an excuse to usurp parental rights is, to us, way beyond the pale-and will, if left unfettered, lead to much more mischief in the future.