Editorial: A middleground on the daycare smoking ban

Children play at a local home daycare. The Hollister council in 2011 rejected a ban on smoking in home daycares during non-working hours.

Considering the known health impacts from tobacco residue, it might seem like an obvious decision to ban smoking 24 hours a day in licensed home daycare facilities. A disclosure requirement at the homes where someone smokes, however, accomplishes the same goal while allowing residents to maintain personal freedom in their homes.
Hollister City Council members for the second time in two and a half years heard a presentation from the county’s public health department about the proposed, 24/7 ban in the area’s 103 home daycare facilities. They didn’t take action last week, but showed some support for the idea this time around and will officially consider the idea at a later date. In November 2011, the council rejected a similar proposal for a ban while citing a lack of enforcement capability.
The enforcement argument was a copout. Merely enacting the law would help to prevent smoking in the homes because it would send a reverberating message. Plus, an advocate for the ban at last week’s meeting underscored how she personally visits all of the daycare sites and is watchful for inappropriate activity.
This issue really reflects a debate between a child’s right to healthy environments versus an adult’s right to do whatever legal activities he or she pleases in the home. Complicating the matter at these multi-use locations is the daycare part of the equation.
Nothing, after all, is more important than a child’s health. Parents of these kids, though, do have the luxury of maintaining a clear choice when they send their children to specific daycare facilities. Both sides have reasonable arguments, and a disclosure mandate would reasonably satisfy all the parties involved.
Local anti-smoking advocates would win another small victory in their battle against big tobacco. Occupants of private residences – at least during daycare off hours – would uphold their right to smoke before or after business hours. Most important, it would present parents with all the information they need for an obvious choice.

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