DRIVERS caught smoking in a vehicle carrying children will face fines of up to £1000 from today.

Charity leaders and anti-smoking campaigners have hailed a new law which will make it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying anyone under 18.

The legislation was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament last year.

Anyone caught breaking the law will be committing an offence carrying a fine of up to £1,000.

Second-hand smoke can cause serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma, and children are more at risk than adults because they have smaller lungs and breathe more quickly.

Studies have also shown the average toxic particle levels breathed in during a smoking car journey are more than 10 times higher than the average levels which can be found in the air.

A public information campaign has been running on TV and radio in the run-up to the ban, highlighting the harms of second-hand smoke and the penalties for breaking the new law.

The measure is part of the Scottish Government’s ambition to create a tobacco-free generation by 2034 – defined as a smoking rate of less than 5%.

Aileen Campbell, Minister for Public Health and Sport, said: “It’s simply not safe to smoke when a child is in the car. Dangerous levels of chemicals can build up, even on short journeys, and 85% of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless so you can’t always see what they’re breathing in.”

Irene Johnstone, Head of British Lung Foundation in Scotland said: “As 85% of second-hand smoke is invisible and odourless, many may not be aware of the dangerous levels reached, even in short car journeys. This new law will not only help reduce the exposure of second hand smoke, but will also go a long way in helping Scotland becoming a tobacco free generation.”

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: “We know from speaking to parents that they want to protect their children from tobacco smoke, but often don’t know enough about how smoke is harmful and lingers in the air even after you can’t see or smell it. This legislation sends a clear message that children should grow up in a smoke-free environment, and who could disagree with that?”

James Cant, director at the British Heart Foundation Scotland, said:”Passengers in smoke filled cars, including children, breathe in more pollutants than anywhere else.

“There is already clear evidence that second hand smoke increases people’s risk of heart and circulatory disease. Children especially need to be protected from the damaging effects of other people smoking in cars.

“Too many children in Scotland are currently exposed to second hand smoke in cars. We therefore support any legislation that protects our kids from adults’ lethal habits.”