The measures were given a fair wind across the party divide as MSPs agreed that tougher curbs on sales to young people, including curbs on vending machines and registrations of shops

selling cigarettes, should go ahead.

The bill passed in principle, giving it passage into full committee consideration. As well as setting out proposals to curb the sale of tobacco to young people, the bill includes measures which aim to exclude certain individuals or private firms from entering into contracts with health boards to provide GP services.

Anti-smoking group Ash welcomed the early endorsement of the bill but MSPs faced criticism from a leading retailers’ group.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said about 15,000 children start to smoke every year. “For decades, too many Scots have suffered and died prematurely from smoking-related diseases. That’s why we are doing all we can to stop children from starting to smoke at all. Our decisive action will make cigarettes less attractive and less easily available to children and I am pleased that MSPs have given the bill their backing.”

MSPs voted 102 to 16 to back stage one of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Bill.

During the debate, SNP backbencher Michael Matheson said his father has lung cancer and called for a quick ban on vending machines and displays.

He added: “We should take steps now to make sure that misery is not exposed to other families in Scotland.”

Labour and the Liberal Democrats broadly support the plans but Tories are opposed, in part because of “flimsy evidence” in the link between advertising and youth smoking.

John Drummond, chief executive of the Scottish Grocers’ Federation, said his group will continue to campaign for “common sense”.

He said: “It is disappointing that so many MSPs support the introduction of a display ban despite the flimsy evidence it will make a difference to youth smoking.

“We believe MSPs should exercise their judgment on the merits of the evidence.

“SGF will continue to make the case to MSPs that the cost of the display ban, imposed on retailers at the worst possible time, is being pushed through in the face of weak evidence.”

Ash Scotland chief

executive Sheila Duffy said: “I am delighted that the overwhelming majority of MSPs have endorsed the general principles of this important bill.

“Smoking remains Scotland’s biggest preventable killer and we can be proud of Scotland’s record as a world leader in tackling this major public health problem.”

The bill also proposes to bring in fixed-penalty notices for retailers who sell cigarettes to under-18s. Banning orders would prevent retailers selling cigarettes if they continually flout the law.

Ms Robison told the parliament that “significant progress” had been made in recent years to prevent the harm done by tobacco, helped by measures such as the smoking ban.

But she told MSPs: “There can be no let up.”

Ms Robison stated: “A child who starts smoking at 15 or younger is three times more likely to die of cancer as a result than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s.”

She told the MSPs that currently 35 Scots die every day from smoking-related illnesses.