CHIEF medics in Scotland are calling for blanket ban for smoking in vehicles, following the latest laws making it illegal to smoke in cars when children are present.

New legislation will be introduced on Monday which aims to protect young people from the harm caused by second-hand smoke.

The British Medical Association (BMA) Scotland said it was important move, but called on the Scottish Government to go a step further and introduce a complete ban on smoking in vehicles.

Dr Peter Bennie, BMA Scotland Chair, said: "The ban on smoking in cars with children is an important first step and we welcome this move to protect our most vulnerable.

"Doctors witness first-hand the devastating effects of smoking-related harms on their patients.

"Children are still developing physically and, as a result, are more susceptible to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

"When someone smokes in a vehicle it creates a concentrated source of exposure to second-hand smoke.

"An outright ban on smoking in vehicles would ensure that adults and particularly vulnerable adults who may be unable to object to others smoking while they are present, are also protected.

"This would also be easier to enforce."

The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume, was passed unanimously by the Scottish Parliament in December 2015.

As of tomorrow it will now mean that those who smoke in in private vehicles with someone under 18 on board will face an on-the-spot penalty of £100 or a fine of up to £1,000 if the case goes to court.

Latest research shows the toxic particles in second-hand smoke can reach harmful concentrations within a minute of lighting a cigarette in a car, ministers said.

This can lead to serious conditions such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma.

Mr Hume said it filled him with "great pride" to know the introduction of the law could potentially save 60,000 children a year from the hazards of second-hand smoke."

The Scottish Government said the measure is part of its plans to create a "tobacco-free generation" by 2034, defined as a smoking rate of less than 5 per cent.

Health campaigners have also welcomed the move, suggesting one in six 15-year-olds are being exposed to second-hand smoke in cars, though some opposition groups have labelled the regulations "patronising and unnecessary".

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of anti-smoking charity 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?"

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell 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.

"We know for a fact that the poisonous chemicals in second-hand smoke are extremely damaging to our health.

"We also know that children breathe faster than adults, meaning they ingest more of the deadly toxins."

Irene Johnstone, head of the British Lung Foundation in Scotland, said: "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."

However, Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "The regulations are patronising and unnecessary.

"Very few adults smoke in cars with children. Smokers know it's inconsiderate and the overwhelming majority don't do it.

"So few people smoke when there's a child in the car it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack."

Police said that enforcing the ban would be a lesser priority while their top one was to ensure the safety of those driving on the roads.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "Officers will deal with this should they come across it in the course of their duties and will be expected to use their discretion.

"This is principally a health issue and one in which local authorities are taking the lead.

"Our main priority is keeping people safe on the roads by robustly tackling drink/drug driving, speeding, mobile phone use and the use of seat belts."

A law banning smoking in vehicles carrying children came into force in England and Wales in October last year.