SCOTLAND'S children's commissioner has backed calls for councils to discourage smoking in areas where children learn socialise and play.

Bruce Adamson has agreed to champion Ash Scotland's Charter for a Tobacco-free Generation which sets out six principles which aim to see the next generation grow up without the health problems and financial costs caused by smoking.

He said the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child had called for young people to be given access to safe, inclusive smoke free places to play in 2016.

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As part of the Scottish Government's efforts to make the country smoke-free by 2034, the charter can help change smoking culture, he added. “There is a momentum in Scotland to ensure that the next generation will be the first to grow up without any pressure or expectation that they will take up smoking.

“The Charter is an important tool that the whole of civic Scotland can use to help change our smoking culture and help put smoking out of sight and out of mind, for our children’s future health."

The third principle in the Ash Scotland charter is that all children should play, learn and socialise in places that are free from tobacco.

A spokesman for the charity said this related primarily to areas such as school grounds and play parks, but not private homes. He said Ash was not calling for a ban on smoking in playgrounds or at school gates, but instead called for councils to consult with local communities about how to keep smoking out of sight of young people.

Ash favours a community-based collaborative approach, with local people involved in discussions about making individual locations smoke-free.

The Charter has been signed by over 170 organisations, each pledging to help bring about a tobacco-free generation.

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: “Bruce is a committed and effective advocate of children’s rights. I am delighted to welcome him as our first Charter Champion.

“Every day in Scotland, thirty six 11-15 year olds try smoking, and for many this leads on to an unwilling, life-long addiction.

“We want the choice to grow up and remain smoke-free in Scotland to be a natural one, and smoke-free environments are part of helping Scotland to achieve this.”