More than 80% of Scots back a ban on smoking outside schools to protect children’s health, a survey indicates.
Charity partnership Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland surveyed 1002 adults in Scotland and found four in five want smoking outside the school gates to be prohibited.
The charity said passive smoking, while harmful to all, is particularly dangerous for babies and children as their lungs are still growing.
It said youngsters breathing in other people’s smoke could face slowing lung growth and an increased risk of developing asthma.
The charity is now calling for Scotland to follow Wales in banning smoking around areas where children and young people spend their time, such as school grounds and play areas.
Joseph Carter, head of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “To reach Scotland’s smoke-free target of less than 5% of adults smoking by 2034, we need to stop normalising smoking around children.
“Passive smoking not only has detrimental health effects on children’s lungs, but it also increases the likelihood that they too will become smokers later in life.
“It is vital that we protect the next generation’s lungs from the effects of smoke.”
He added: “That is why we are calling for the new Government to commit to banning smoking around schools and playgrounds.”
Alexander Stewart, Scottish Conservative MSP and Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland’s smoking cessation champion, said the survey results come as no surprise.
He said he is wholeheartedly behind a ban, adding: “Children look up to adults, especially parents, relatives or carers and if they smoke, they run the risk of allowing their children to consider the habit as a ‘normal’ thing to pursue.
“As Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation’s smoking cessation champion, I will do all I can to get the message across that we must stop this ‘normalisation’ of smoking and to join our collective push for a complete ban on smoking at school gates.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Stopping smoking at any time is one of the best things you can do for your health, and we will always consider proposals from Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland.
“Children are more vulnerable to breathing in polluted air than adults as their airways are smaller and still developing. We also know that children breathe faster than adults, and therefore breathe in more of the harmful chemicals contained in second-hand smoke. Adults that do smoke should make sure they are not in close proximity to children or young people when doing so.
“Targeted media campaigns, including social media campaigns, are regularly undertaken to ensure that message is getting through. In addition we work alongside YoungScot, schools and further education institutions to ensure young people are aware of the dangers of smoking and the importance of making healthy life choices.”