Can I foster if I smoke?

Posted on Monday 8th November 2021

There’s a misconception in the world of fostering that you won’t be able to become a foster carer if you’re a smoker.

In some cases, that’s true. However, with Foster for Staffordshire, it depends on specific circumstances.

Can you foster if you smoke in Staffordshire? 

In order to safeguard children in Staffordshire’s health, you can only foster children over the age of 5.

If you decide to give up smoking to enable you to foster children under the age of 5, you must have stopped for a period of 6 months before applying to become a foster carer.

Also, if a child has a disability or respiratory problems such as asthma or heart problems, they will not be placed with a foster carer who smokes.

Our foster carers are advised not to smoke in front of young children or people. A foster carer should not advocate smoking to looked after children, and should definitely not buy tobacco or cigarettes for young people in their care.

Can you smoke e-cigarettes or vape as a foster carer? 

If you smoke e-cigarettes or vape, Foster for Staffordshire will not see this as a reason to stop you from becoming a foster carer.

Your use of e-cigarettes or vape will be assessed during your initial visit from a social worker, as well as during the full fostering assessment.

Smoking in a vehicle with children 

Whether you’re a foster carer or not, it is illegal to smoke whilst behind the wheel of a car and whilst children are passengers.

The law prevents drivers from smoking whilst carrying someone under the age of 18 in a vehicle. It’s also against the law to not stop someone from smoking whilst driving. The fine for both of these offences is £50.

How will smoking affect children in my care? 

Passive smoking is inhaling what the smoker exhales, as well as the smoke created from the end of a cigarette.

Most of the smoke created by a cigarette goes into the air around you, meaning anyone nearby can breathe it in.

Passive smoking and second-hand smoke can be dangerous for children to inhale.

When you smoke a cigarette, most of the smoke doesn't go into your lungs.

Children that live in homes where smoking occurs are at a higher risk of breathing problems, asthma and allergies.

How to protect children against passive smoking 

The only way to protect foster children in your care from passive smoking is to keep the environment around them smoke-free.

The most effective way to do this is by quitting smoking, however, if you’re not ready to quit there are things you should do to minimise risk.

Smoke outside 

By smoking outside, the smoke from your cigarette won’t linger around your home. This can help to keep your foster children safe from the danger of passive smoking.

Ask visitors to smoke outside

By asking visitors to your home to smoke outside, you can help to protect your foster children from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Don’t smoke in the car or let anyone else 

It is illegal to smoke in the car whilst children are present, and it’s also illegal to not smoke someone else from smoking. By following this law, you can help keep children in your care healthy.

What is Stoptober? 

Stoptober is an NHS scheme encouraging people to stop smoking in October.

Giving up smoking is one of the best things you'll ever do for your health. There are lots of other benefits too, especially if you’re an aspiring foster carer. 

It’s never too late to stop smoking, and there are benefits to being a smoke-free foster carer with Foster for Staffordshire.

Whether you smoke or not, and you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, get in touch with our team today.