Getting the Gold Star in Protecting Kids

Smoking and child care? You wouldn’t even think that’s a topic of discussion today, right? In fact, California does regulate smoking in licensed child care facilities by prohibiting smoking at all times in child care centers, or a facility that’s sole purpose is to provide childcare services, but not child care homes, or day care facilities operated out of a person’s home. In child care homes, smoking is only prohibited during hours of operation and when children are not present. Despite the intrinsic difference in setting (someone’s home versus a separate business), we all know the dangers associated with exposure to secondhand smoke do not discriminate. The risk is the same whether a child is cared for in a center or in a home setting.

In late April, the American Lung Association in California Smokefree OC project launched the GOLD Star Provider program in the city of Costa Mesa to help prevent exposure from secondhand smoke in licensed child care homes. In order for a child care home to receive the designation of Gold Star Provider, it must be licensed by the city of Costa Mesa and adopt a voluntary smokefree policy that restricts smoking twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in the home and on the property. Gold Star Providers go beyond the requirements of the California Health and Safety Code to ensure the health of all the children that they serve.

Protecting children from secondhand smoke is important, as exposure has been known to cause lung cancer, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), respiratory tract infections and severe asthma episodes. Residual secondhand smoke contamination also can linger on surfaces long after cigarettes have been extinguished, leaving harmful particulates on countertops, floors, carpets, upholstery and other fabrics. Infants and children are more susceptible to this residual smoke because of their tendency to crawl, play on, breathe near, and touch these surfaces.

Smokefree OC project commends the providers that have adopted the policy and taken the important steps to ensure the health and safety of every child served by these facilities is not compromised.

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-David Reynoso


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