We need to look after our health. That is – we as in the collective, the public, the nation. It is also we, as a country need to consider the implications of the choices some members of the pubic opt to make. There is a train of thought that if the government steps in to try and help that it is the nanny state pushing its nose in to private affairs. There is the other train of thought that it is the government (any party in power) that has the job of looking after the health affairs of the population.
The government recently brought in a law banning smoking in a vehicle where there are passengers under the age of 18 from the 1st October 2015 onwards. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-31310685 for details.
There is already a ban on smoking in company vehicles that was brought in in 2007.
Most people I have spoken to on this subject agree that it is sensible, logical and caring towards the young people of this country. There are a few that believe that the government should not be in a position to dictate what they can and can’t do in their own vehicle and force upon their family.
Other dodgy scenarios
I’ve seen some other situations recently where I am not convinced the adult has the best interests of the child, and I am not sure what the answer is to resolving these, but I am convinced that it does not seem right, and I feel for the children involved to be around such a scenario, though currently there is no legislation that I am aware of that would be able to assist them.
I was in my front room the other day, just looking out at my front garden and around the street. I saw a man, in his early 30s walking his two children home from school. They looked young, both probably less than 10 years old. They were walking home and he was about five paces behind texting on his phone and drinking a can of lager. This was just after three o’clock in the afternoon. I don’t live in a street that is an ‘alcohol free zone’ but I was quite appalled that someone was drinking in the street while picking kids up from school.
The other scenario happened somewhere else, outside a parade of local shops. A young mother, early twenties with a pram stood outside one of the shops. There she was puffing away on a cigarette, and also texting away on her phone in her other hand. The poor baby in the pram must have been getting a large amount of that cigarette smoke into their little enclosed space in the pram.
We have recommended guidelines about not smoking during pregnancy so not to harm the development of the baby during pregnancy. We have laws now about smoking in cars when under 18s are present. But it does not seem like there is anything that helps protect very young children and babies from smoking adults around them.
I am predicting that most people will see these two scenarios in the same light that I do, that the adults do not have the very best interests of the children at heart and that they are being selfish and thoughtless towards their children.
The man drinking in the street may say that he isn’t directly affecting the health of his children, but he isn’t setting a very good example and isn’t being their responsible adult at the time either. He could be interacting with them about their day, finding out how they got on at school, what they learnt, asking questions and paying an interest in them. This encourages their communication skills and improves the bond between parent and child, and helps motivate the children in their development.
The woman smoking by her pram may say that it is the only time she gets to have a smoke. Being a parent is stressful, so much to think of all the time, and lots of considerations to make. But the main consideration of being a parent is the welfare and health of the child. There are choices to make in all scenarios and there are also other options that wouldn’t be a risk to the young baby.
Whilst the government and authorities have a responsibility to put things in place to help the nation, the nation also has a responsibility to help itself. By not choosing certain lifestyle choices we are able to build a better life for the younger generations. If some people in the country do not have the common sense and nous to be able to make sensible decisions on the health and wellbeing of their children, there is a strong argument for governments to step in and do what they can to try and protect where they can.
Disclaimer: I am not a parent, I am not a smoker, I am not someone who drinks in the street where children are present, and if I was minding a child I would not be drinking.