Social workers given updated guidance on e-cigarette use by foster carers or adopters

British Association of Adoption and Fostering now advises social workers to distinguish between e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes

Photo: Steve Meddle/REX
Photo: Steve Meddle/REX

Social workers have been given updated guidance on how they should consider the use of electronic-cigarettes by prospective foster carers and adoptive parents.

The British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) has this week updated its guidance for social workers. It followed a story in the Mail On Sunday, which claimed prospective adopters had been rejected by Staffordshire council because the man used an electronic-cigarette.

BAAF guidance had previously stated that e-cigarettes should be regarded in the same way as tobacco cigarettes, but the organisation has since reversed its position on the matter.

“At the next meeting of our Health Group Advisory Committee (HGAC), we will be recommending that agencies now consider e-cigarettes as different to tobacco cigarettes,” read the news release on its website.

“Agencies should therefore recognise the low risk to children and not see the use of e-cigarettes as a reason to preclude foster carers or adopters purely on this basis. Each circumstance should be risk assessed on an individual basis.”

The decision was made after the organisation, “took the opportunity to review the evidence presented in the Public Health England Report, which was quoted in the Mail on Sunday article”, a BAAF spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added: “On the basis of the information contained in this report BAAF has updated our recommendations. We are continuing to monitor research and discuss the issue of e-cigarettes.”

Staffordshire council has a policy that children under five should not be placed in a home where their foster carer or adoptive parent has been a smoker in the past 12 months.

The man referred to in the Mail on Sunday story had only been a non-smoker for two months, a council spokesperson said, so the e-cigarette was not a factor in its decision to reject his application to adopt.

The council does consider adopters and foster carers who use e-cigarettes, but only if they ceased smoking tobacco cigarettes at least 12 months ago.

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