Members of RTC and LAAMPP celebrate Ramsey County Commissioners’ resolution to implement 24/7 smoke-free foster care.

The Ramsey Tobacco Coalition (RTC) worked with the Leadership and Advocacy Institute to Advance Minnesota’s Parity for Priority Populations (LAAMPP) program to advocate for 24/7 smoke-free foster care.

RTC and LAAMPP advocates met with Ramsey County Commissioners Toni Carter, Blake Huffman, Jim McDonough, Mary Jo McGuire, Rafael Ortega and Victoria Reinhardt to discuss instituting this measure in the county. The commissioners voiced their support for protecting these youth, who are wards of the state.

In March, the commission passed a resolution directing the Ramsey County Community Human Services department to implement this policy in Ramsey County.  This would provide smoke-free homes to protect the children and ensure a safe environment.

About the resolution

This resolution is an important part of ensuring that our state’s foster children are placed in safe and healthy homes. Data show 90 percent of children in the child welfare system have at least one chronic health condition. Exposure to secondhand smoke can aggravate these existing health conditions as well as increase the child’s risk for ear infections, asthma attacks, respiratory infections and SIDS.

Every licensed foster home in Ramsey County is now expected to maintain a smoke-free environment when foster children or adolescents are in the residence. Ramsey County is the ninth county in Minnesota to protect foster children from secondhand smoke; one tribal government has enacted a similar policy.

We will continue to work with Ramsey County staff on implementation of this policy, including providing cessation resources. We also look forward to seeing what state leaders do to protect Minnesota’s foster children.

You can read more about the resolution in the Pioneer Press.