Legislators protect Minnesota's most vulnerable children by passing smoke-free foster care bill

Bill would keep children safe from the dangers of secondhand smoke

May 05, 2014, 22:39 ET from ClearWay Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn., May 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Minnesota House of Representatives passed the Health and Human Services (HHS) Policy Omnibus Bill today, which contained a provision to make foster homes in Minnesota smoke-free.

"A vote for this bill was a vote to protect the health of some of Minnesota's most vulnerable children – those in the foster care system – from the perils of secondhand smoke," said Molly Moilanen, Director of Public Affairs at ClearWay MinnesotaSM.

Should this bill become law, a smoke-free environment will be added to existing criteria that is reviewed with potential foster parents to ensure a safe, healthy environment before a placement is made. More than half of all states and nine Minnesota counties have smoke-free foster care policies in place. These policies are supported by the National Foster Parent Association, and according to a recent survey, 93 percent of Minnesotans support them as well.

"There is a reason that an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans support smoke-free foster care," added Moilanen. "There is no safe level of secondhand smoke for anyone, especially children, whose bodies are still developing. Eighty percent of foster children suffer from at least one chronic medical condition, and secondhand smoke exposure is a known cause of SIDS, potentially fatal respiratory infection, frequent and severe asthma attacks and ear infections."

"We encourage the Senate to follow the House's lead and pass this bill when they debate their version in coming weeks," said Moilanen.

SOURCE ClearWay Minnesota