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Scotland to ban smoking in cars with children

Scotland is to ban smoking in cars that are carrying children after MSPs voted unanimously in favour of a change in the law.

The new legislation will mean fines of up to £100 for anyone who smokes in a car which has a passenger under the age of 18.

It aims protect children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) Bill was introduced by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume.

Mr Hume’s mother died of cancer caused by second-hand smoke.

‘Healthiest start’

He told MSPs that the concentrations of harmful tobacco particles in the very close confines of a car were far greater than from smoke in bars, which had already been banned.

He added: “Around 60,000 children are put in this position each week in Scotland.

“This legislation will, of course, address that situation and help to ensure that all our children and young people have the best and healthiest start in life.”

The bill was backed by the Scottish government and opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament.

Public health minister Maureen Watt said the legislation would contribute to the Scottish government’s drive to cut the number of children exposed to second-hand smoke from 12% to 6% by 2020.

And she said that Scotland had shown itself to be a “world leader on tobacco control”.

Publicity campaign

A publicity campaign will be carried out to raise awareness of the change in the law.

The new legislation has also been supported by public health and anti-smoking campaigners, who have said that second-hand smoke can reach very high levels when someone lights up in a car.

They have also said that about a fifth of 13 and 15-year-olds in Scotland are exposed to tobacco smoke during car journeys.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of health charity Ash Scotland, said: “This is a victory for doctors, nurses, parents and, most of all, for children.

“We know the immense harm done to children by second-hand smoke. Meningitis, lung cancer and even cot death have been linked to tobacco smoke.

“I’m delighted that we’ve introduced this sensible measure to protect children’s health.”

‘Strong signal’

Dr Peter Fowlie, officer for Scotland for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Scottish Parliament’s move to ban smoking in cars carrying children not only protects children from terrible conditions linked to second-hand smoke such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia and asthma, but also sends a strong signal that smoking is not cool – it kills.

“Today’s decision is something to be celebrated and we as paediatricians applaud parliamentarians for taking such bold steps to protect child health.”

But smokers’ group Forest had argued that the bill was the “worst kind of gesture politics” and represented a worrying intrusion into people’s private space”.

A ban on smoking in cars carrying under-18s came into force in England and Wales earlier this year.

Northern Ireland is also looking at introducing a similar ban.

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