THE Scottish Government is considering whether to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to under-18s and make it illegal to smoke in a car with a child present.
A public consultation has been launched to look at potential changes to regulations on e-cigarettes and strengthening tobacco control.
There is currently no age limit for e-cigarettes and concerns have been raised by some about their lack of regulation.
The Government is also considering making it illegal for an adult to buy e-cigarettes for someone under age as well as restricting advertising of the devices.
Members of the public are also being asked their views on banning smoking in a car if there is a child under the age of 18 on board.
Respondents will also be asked whether councils should be able to set up smoke-free zones around outdoor children’s play parks and whether it should be a statutory obligation for all NHS grounds to be smoke-free.
Health boards have been asked to achieve this by April 2015, but currently only on a voluntary basis.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “Electronic cigarettes are relatively new and there is very little regulation of their sale and use. This consultation is the first step towards proper regulation of the devices in Scotland. We will carefully consider the responses and decide what are the most appropriate next steps.
“It is very important we consider the restrictions on all forms of advertising on e-cigarettes, which I know is a concern to many.
“There are also some measures here to further protect children from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
“This year we launched our Take it Right Outside campaign, which urges people not to smoke near children. We have set a target to halve the number of children exposed to second-hand smoke by 2020, but we are actively looking at whether there is any further legislation that could help us to achieve this target.”
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of health charity ASH Scotland, said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government is exploring further measures to tackle the harm caused by smoking as we move towards our goal of a tobacco-free Scotland.
“The issues addressed show the nation’s ongoing, strong commitment to putting smoking out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion for the next generation.
“Smoking rates have decreased significantly, but with one million people in Scotland still exposed to much greater risk of heart disease, a range of cancers, stroke, dementia, arthritis and diabetes, there is more that we can do.”
The consultation was also welcomed by Liberal Democrat health spokesman Jim Hume MSP, who last year launched a Bill to prevent adults smoking in vehicles in the presence of under 16s.
Mr Hume said: “Clearly the Scottish Government have been persuaded by the evidence to my consultation and by the strength of the case made by myself and colleagues in the academic and charity sectors.
“Only by prohibiting this dangerous practice can we safeguard the health and future of our children by preventing their exposure to the damaging chemicals found in second-hand smoke.
“I will be pressing ahead with my own proposals and will shortly be lodging my Bill to ensure that this issue continues to remain front and centre of the Scottish Government’s tobacco control efforts.”
The consultation closes on January 2 and all responses will be used to inform the development of any future legislation.