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Lawmaker seeks smoking ban for Minn. foster homes

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DULUTH -- Smoking would be banned in all foster homes in Minnesota if the state Legislature passes a proposed bill.

St. Louis, Lake and Beltrami counties are among those that already require foster homes to be smoke free. A pending bill would make Minnesota the 18th state to enact such a ban.

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A sponsor of the legislation, DFL Rep. Tom Huntley, of Duluth, said the bill was introduced too late in the current session to pass as stand-alone legislation, but that it could pass if it were added as an amendment to another piece of legislation.

"I think the general public, when this is explained to them, would support it," Huntley said.

The Minnesota Foster Care Association says the majority of foster parents most likely would be on board with the ban, the Duluth News Tribune reported Thursday.

In order to foster a child, caregivers must go through numerous "hoops and inspections," said foster parent Steve O'Neil, who is also a St. Louis County commissioner. "So, for example, you can't have peeling paint, because we would not expose children to lead paint."

David Sutton, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA, said the nation's largest tobacco company believes adults should avoid smoking around children, but opposes what it calls "complete bans," including in homes.

"In private residences and in other private places, the individual owner should determine the smoking policy," Sutton said in an email to the newspaper.

There are about 8,000 children in foster care in Minnesota.

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