A bid to outlaw smoking in cars when children are present has been slammed as politicians “undermining the rights of parents” by a Dundee academic.
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume yesterday lodged a bill at Holyrood which could see smokers hit with a £100 fine if they are caught lighting up in their vehicle while under-18s are present.
It has the backing of Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Children In Scotland, ASH Scotland and others, but senior sociology lecturer at Abertay University, Dr Stuart Waiton, has opposed to the move.
He said: “As far as I can tell, politicians should really now be called risk managers, because that seems to be what they spend most of their time doing especially when it comes to child safety. Politicians seem to think they have got carte blanche and they can just run with it.
“On top of that, there’s also a trend towards interfering in the family now. There’s a worrying trend towards undermining the rights of parents and undermining people’s privacy.”
A number of countries have already legislated to ban smoking in vehicles while children are present, including Australia, Canada and South Africa.
Mr Hume said Scotland and the UK remain one of the few places where children can legally be exposed to passive smoking in private vehicles.
He pointed to research that suggests negative health effects associated with a child’s exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke include increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, coughing and wheezing, asthma and lower respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis.
The South of Scotland MSP added: “A shocking 60,000 children each week are exposed to second-hand smoke in vehicles.
“This bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to. Eighty-four per cent of the 160 responses to my consultation were positive and people from across Scotland have expressed their support for the move.
“I look forward to working with MSPs from all parties as the bill progresses.”
Head of British Lung Foundation Scotland, Dr James Cant, said: “The facts are in, and they’re shocking second-hand smoke can kill.
“That’s why we’re so glad to support Jim Hume MSP’s bill to ban this menace.”