Experts from the Spanish Society of Pulmonology and Cardiothoracic Surgery (SEPAR) will argue at an upcoming conference that smoking near a child could be considered a form of abuse.
"It is possible to think of second-hand smoke around a child as a form of abuse due to the damage to one’s health that it inflicts," SEPAR member José Francisco Pacual Lledó , who is presenting the argument, told news agency Efe.
Second-hand smoke has been linked to a number of serious medical problems in children, including asthma attacks, infections, and various respiratory issues.
But if smoking around a child were to be truly considered criminal abuse, this raises the question of whether the act of such smoking should be brought before police as a crime.
Pacual said that this could result in punishment of addiction, rather than treatment of it, and that perhaps “it is necessary to strengthen even more the efforts to inform people about the impacts of second-hand smoke so that parents can adopt the proper measures”.
"Given the harmful consequences on one’s health, it is necessary to accelerate protection strategies for children from the passive exposure to tobacco smoke," he continued.
Pacual suggested coming up with ways to regulate smoking within closed spaces like houses and cars, and further tightening bans on smoking in certain open areas.
"Get rid of tobacco in interior spaces completely protects nonsmokers from exposure to environmental smoke," he said.
Some recent studies have shown that Spaniards are slowly turning away from cigarettes, though younger Spaniards tend to be heavier smokers.
An viral Instagram photo last year of a baby smoking a cigarette enraged many across social media, eliciting condemnation at the time from health organizations, some who called it "child abuse".