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Can I Adopt If I Smoke? Things to Consider

Do you or someone you know smoke cigarettes and are considering adopting or fostering a child? A question to be asked could be, can I adopt a child if I smoke?

Smoking may or may not disqualify you from adopting a child. Yet not only does smoking harm one’s health and longevity, but smoking also sets a bad example for a child whom you surely would not want to pick up the smoking habit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or about 1 in 5 deaths. Yet despite this reality, people are still smoking cigarettes.

Even though smoking is on a steady decline and losing its popularity, some have picked up the habit and either want to quit but do not know where to find the strength to do so, or they simply enjoy the habit and have no desire to stop smoking cigarettes.

The 5 things to consider if you are a smoker who wants to adopt a child:

A fist crushing cigarettes.

You May Be Asked To Quit

To be honest, do we think a parent should be smoking cigarettes while calling themselves good parents? That may be a very controversial can of worms to open, and it is a fair question to contemplate.

Now true, a parent can still be an amazing nurturer in all other ways and truly can still raise a happy, healthy child while also being a smoker of cigarettes.

Knowing the very real health risks of smoking cigarettes, it is very hard to believe that a parent wants to be a smoker and also raise children.

The struggle is not realizing that smoking kills. We get it. We also know that preaching about preventable and deadly health issues is more than just rhetoric.

The real problem here is that quitting smoking cigarettes is hard. That craving is all too consuming for so many people, that they cannot find the strength to stop.


You know the old saying, monkey see monkey do. Children typically look up to their parents and want to be like them, especially small children.

The average age of a first-time cigarette smoker is 15 years of age. And how do you think they got their hands on cigarettes? More than likely, they had access to cigarettes through someone’s parents.

All it takes is the first couple of cigarettes and the hope to look cool in front of one’s friends to become addicted to cigarettes. And once the child has matured into making their own decisions rather than caring about appearing cool, it is too late.

They have become addicted, and many die due to health problems that could have been prevented.

NCBI – BMC Public Health – Youth’s narratives about family members smoking: parenting the parent- it’s not fair!

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You Have a High Chance of a Preventable Disease

The following are a few of the preventable diseases you are putting yourself at risk of getting.

Smoking increases your risk of the following types of cancers, Courtesy of the American Cancer Society:

  • Mouth
  • Larynx (voice box)
  • Pharynx (throat)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney
  • Cervix
  • Liver
  • Bladder
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Colon/rectum

Nearly 9 out of 10 adult daily smokers smoked their first cigarette by the age of 18.

Courtesy of U.S. Food & Drug Administration


Additional risks of smoking cigarettes are as follows, courtesy of the CDC:

  • Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to have coronary heart disease
  • Smokers are 2-4 times more likely to have a stroke
  • Men who smoke are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer
  • Women who smoke are 25.7 times more likely to get lung cancer

Logically, we know that smoking is very bad for our health. Yet sadly, many people are addicted to smoking and find it very difficult to stop.

Disadvantages of Smoking Cigarettes

Below are some common disadvantages of smoking:

  • The cost of smoking cigarettes is enormously expensive.
  • It is no secret that smokers give off an off-putting smell. Their clothing smells like smoke. And if they happen to smoke inside of their home, their walls have slowly turned yellow due to the nicotine, as well as their curtains, and the entire house reeks of cigarette smoke.
  • Kissing is a thing. If intimacy matters to you, then you know that when you kiss someone who smokes, you get a huge whiff and taste of nicotine.
  • You develop the facial wrinkles of a smoker, particularly but not limited to those all-too-famous wrinkles around the mouth.
  • Age spots are more common in cigarette smokers and many times show up on the face.
  • Most smokers will eventually show signs of damaged gums and yellow teeth.
  • Stained nails and fingers are a sure sign of a chronic smoker.
  • Studies in Taiwan show that male-pattern baldness is exacerbated in males who smoke, causing a faster rate of hair loss.
  • We could go on and on about the sagging skin and poor skin quality, most noticeable in women, but you are probably getting the point here. Smoking is not worth it. Not for you or for the future of your child.

Quit Smoking – Resources to Help

Quitting smoking is said to be very difficult. Below are some credible resources that will hopefully help you on your journey to preparing yourself to be the best parent you can be for your adopted child!

It is not the smoker’s fault as much as it is the cigarette companies who make the cigarettes. Cigarettes are made to be addictive on purpose. Even though the manufacturers of cigarettes are fully aware of the health damages they cause, they only care about the profits they make.

To learn more about tobacco companies intentionally conspiring to get you addicted, read more at NPR OBP.

What Disqualifies You From Adopting a Child?

If you are too old, too young, or in poor health, you may be denied the opportunity to adopt a child. An unstable lifestyle, a negative criminal history, a history of child abuse, or a lack of financial stability may also disqualify you.

It’s understandable to be anxious about anything that could prevent you from adopting a child.

Certain medical issues may also disqualify you, so do your research and be ready for what is expected of you ahead of time.

If you’re thinking of adopting a child, learn everything you can about the regulations in the state where you want to adopt.

You are encouraged to contact an adoption agency of your choice to request information on the requirements to adopt a child.

Can I Be a Foster Parent If I Smoke?

Foster parents may be allowed to smoke depending on what state they live in. States that allow foster parents to smoke will require the foster parents or visitors to not smoke within the home or inside of a vehicle with foster children inside.

A widespread myth about fostering is that if you smoke, you won’t be able to foster.

Foster care agencies, as a children’s protection agency, are committed to providing the best level of support to all of the young people they are responsible for, so that they may live healthy lives.

What Disqualifies You From Being a Foster Parent?

Let’s go over some examples of things that may disqualify you from being a foster parent:

Medically ineligible

A person with a variety of health issues would be medically unsuitable to be a foster parent. Any major sickness, such as cancer, HIV, or even epilepsy, falls under this category.

Mental health issues such as depression and bipolar disorder are examples of other illnesses.
It’s also important to know that if they’ve had specific treatments in the past, they’ll be ineligible for the position.

This covers all medical treatments as well as any accident or trauma that a child may have experienced

Abuse of children

This may seem self-evident, but it’s crucial to remember that the Department of Human Services will not allow any sort of child abuse.

Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse are all possibilities. If a person has a history of child abuse, they will not be allowed to become a foster parent.

History of Criminal Offenses

Many individuals are unaware that a potential foster parent’s criminal background will automatically exclude them from being a foster parent.

This might entail everything from underage drinking to vandalism to a DUI. 

This is because such infractions suggest that the offender has disobeyed society’s rules, which would necessitate a thorough investigation.

If a potential foster parent has a criminal past, they will not be authorized by their local department of human services. 

Issues Handling Stress

It is critical for anybody interested in being a foster parent to be able to handle the high levels of stress that come with the position. 

This is because many things may go wrong in a foster home, and if one is unable to deal, they will be unable to provide for their foster child’s needs.

Social challenges, behavioral disorders, and other mental health concerns are just a few instances.

Home Environment That Isn’t Right

Any family wishing to foster a child must be able to offer a safe and nurturing home for the child. Homes must be safe both physically and emotionally for a child.

Both a home’s physical environment and the way in which a foster parent nurtures are paramount in caring for a foster child.  

Inadequate income

Foster parents are provided with a foster child support stipend to assist them in providing for their foster children.

Some individuals, on the other hand, strive to take on this obligation without having the financial means to do so. Foster parents will not be able to become foster parents if their income is insufficient.

Problems with Alcohol and/or Drugs

Any type of alcoholism or drug use will automatically prevent someone from being a foster parent.

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Trina Greenfield - Adoption Author

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina does not run an adoption agency. Her website is strictly information-based, so she is able to provide unbiased, credible information that she hopes will help guide those along their journey.