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8 October 2015, 12:10
Legislation that would ban smoking in cars when children are present will be debated by MSPs at Holyrood today.
A Members' Bill introduced by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume would bring in fines of £100 for motorists caught smoking in private vehicles while a child aged under 18 is on board.
The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill has been backed in principle by the Scottish Parliament's Health Committee, the Scottish Government, Scottish Labour, charities and academics.
Speaking before the stage one debate, Mr Hume said: "We know that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke.
"With an estimated 60,000 children in Scotland exposed to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke during car journeys every week, the time for action is now.
"Protecting the health of children should never be a party political issue.
"The evidence in favour of a change in the law is compelling and I hope to have the support of the whole chamber during the debate today.''
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of health charity ASH Scotland, said: "This is well-evidenced, popular legislation that will help to protect children's health.
"Similar measures are already in place in England and Wales, and there seems to be wide cross-party support for the proposals here in Scotland.
"I hope to see this Bill fully supported by the Scottish Parliament and passed and implemented as soon as possible.''
Sean Semple, senior lecturer at Aberdeen University, said: "Our previous study looked at levels of harmful fine particulate matter during car journeys where someone smoked and found levels were over ten times higher compared to smoke-free car journeys.
"If children were being exposed to these concentrations of air pollution when playing outside, there would be a national outcry.''
Dr Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland, said the legislation was an "important first step'' in reducing tobacco harm while Children and Young People's Commissioner Tam Baillie called for it to be accompanied by an awareness-raising campaign to "create the necessary change in culture''.