LAWYERS have called for legislation to ban smoking in cars that are carrying children to be extended to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes.

Adult motorists or their passengers caught lighting up in vehicles carrying people under the age of 18 soon face being fined up to £100.

But The Law Society of Scotland has said the cigarette ban does not go far enough and should have covered the devices which are commonly used by people trying to kick traditional smoking habits.

The body, which represents more than 10,500 solicitors, last week failed in a bid to have the Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) Bill amended until the full facts about the health impact of the vaping devices are known.

They contain liquid nicotine rather than traditional nicotine which is heated to simulate the effect of smoking.

The amendment was not accepted before last week's vote by MSPs.

Alison Britton, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s health and medical law committee said: "We had hoped that the legislation be extended to expressly prohibit the use of e-cigarettes as well as conventional cigarettes, especially in relation to young people, so it is disappointing to see this hasn’t been included.

"Taking into account there will undoubtedly be an updating of research, not only into the effects of e-cigarettes, but the harmful effects of tobacco in general in the next few years, this would have potentially given us the opportunity to ensure that the legislation remained fit for purpose," she said.

In the proposed change, The Law Society of Scotland said: "We would suggest that the current definition of ‘to smoke’ within the act may not cover e-cigarettes as the definition contained within clause 3 (3) states ‘lit substance or mixture which includes tobacco’.

"We would suggest that the provisions be expressly extended to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes.

"Whilst we recognise that some may believe that nicotine vapour products may be a safer alter alternative to conventional cigarettes, more information is still required on the long term risks and benefits to public health in general and particularly to children and young persons."

The group has also expressed disappointment that MSPs voted against a review of the legislation in five years. liquid nicotine

The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) Bill was introduced by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume.

The Children in Scotland pressure group supported the extension of this Bill to include e-cigarettes.

Cigarettes burn tobacco to release smoke containing nicotine and other chemicals. On the other hand, e-cigarettes heat liquid nicotine directly to make an inhalable vapour.

Although this method has become popular, public health officials are at odds with scientists over whether or not e-cigarettes, used by as many as 2.6 million people in the UK are safe.

Last week Scotland's largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, lifted a ban on patients using electronic cigarettes following recent research in England.

Public Health England has issued a report concluding that e-cigarettes were 95 per cent less harmful than conventional tobacco, but the World Health Organisation and scientists remain concerned about their safety.

Health experts from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the University of Liverpool claim evidence used in the Public Health England report was flawed, based on inconclusive evidence which was tainted by vested interests.

Writing in the BMJ, Professor Martin McKee and Professor Simon Capewell said there was no reliable evidence to show that e-cigarettes were safe or that they did not provide a ‘gateway’ to smoking for youngsters.

E-cigarettes use cartridges to produce a nicotine hit through an inhalable vapour without the tar and other carcinogens in inhaled via tobacco smoke.