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25 March 2015, 14:26
Plans to change the law to ban smoking in cars when children are on board have won the support of the Scottish Government.
Public health minister Maureen Watt confirmed the SNP administration would support proposals which could see people fined £100 if they are caught lighting up in a vehicle when under-18s are present.
Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has submitted a member's Bill at Holyrood in a bid to change the law.
While Ms Watt said the Government supported the principle of his Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill, she also said changes would need to be made to the legislation to ensure it is workable.
Ms Watt said: "This Government is absolutely committed to protecting children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
"Last year we announced a target to reduce the proportion of children in Scotland exposed in the home from 12% to 6% by 2020 - potentially saving 50,000 Scottish children from second-hand smoke.
"Mr Hume's Bill chimes with those aims and we have always been clear that we supported the proposals in principle.
"We consulted on the possibility of including this measure in our forthcoming Public Health Bill, but we have now decided to support this members' Bill.
"As with any Bill, as it goes through the scrutiny process there may be amendments and improvements to strengthen the legislation and ensure it is fit for purpose.
"But we believe that the underpinning principles are strong and that is why I am pleased to support it."
Scottish Labour and a number of health charities have already backed the proposals.
Mr Hume, the Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: "I am over the moon that the Scottish Government is to support my moves to ban smoking in cars whilst children are present.
"With cross-party support and the support of many third-sector organisations, there is every chance that this could be in place in the next year."
He added that 84% of the 160 responses to his consultation backed the change, saying that "people from across Scotland have expressed their support for the move".
Mr Hume added: "This Bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.
"I look forward to working with MSPs from all parties as the Bill progresses."