Public health minister Maureen Watt confirmed the SNP administration would support proposals that could see people fined £100 if they are caught lighting up in a vehicle when under-18s are present.
Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume has submitted a member’s bill at Holyrood in a bid to change the law.
While Ms Watt said the government supported the principle of his Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) (Scotland) Bill, she also said changes would need to be made to make the legislation workable.
Ms Watt said: “We have always been clear that we supported the proposals in principle.
“We consulted on the possibility of including this measure in our forthcoming public health bill, but we have now decided to support this members’ bill. As with any bill, as it goes through the scrutiny process, there may be amendments and improvements to strengthen the legislation and ensure it is fit for purpose. But we believe that the underpinning principles are strong and that is why I am pleased to support it.”
Mr Hume’s proposals have already been backed by Scottish Labour and a number of health charities.
Mr Hume said: “I am over the moon that the Scottish Government is to support my moves to ban smoking in cars whilst children are present.
“With cross-party support and the support of many third-sector organisations, there is every chance that this could be in place in the next year.”
He added that 84 per cent of the 160 responses to his consultation backed the change, saying that “people from across Scotland have expressed their support for the move”.
Mr Hume added: “This bill is about guaranteeing that children in Scotland can have the freedom to go on and lead healthy lives if they choose to.
“I look forward to working with MSPs from all parties as the bill progresses.”
Anti-smoking campaigners welcomed the Scottish Government’s backing for the bill.
ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “It is another public-health initiative that can help Scotland move forward with its ambition to achieve a tobacco-free generation in 20 years’ time.”
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, branded the bill as being “legislation for legislation’s sake”.
He added: “Smoking in cars carrying children is inconsiderate. The overwhelming majority of smokers know that and don’t do it.
“The very small number that do will carry on regardless because the law will be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.”
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