Taking action on smoking and health
Recent research conducted by the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with the Universities of Aberdeen and Stirling, has revealed that hospitalisations for asthma in pre-school children has fallen in Scotland in the two years following legislation banning smoking in vehicles containing a child.
The Smoking Prohibition (Children in Motor Vehicles) Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2016, making it illegal to smoke in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18. The research, published in the Lancet Public Health, found that after the 2016 Bill was passed, asthma hospitalisations fell by 1.49% per month among pre-school children.
The study also shows that hospitalisations fell significantly among children living in Scotland’s more affluent areas (2.27% per month); however, this is not the case for those living in the most deprived areas, showing that the harms of tobacco continue to disproportionally negatively affect those on lower incomes.
The percentage of childhood asthma cases attributable to second-hand smoke exposure is estimated to range from 1.3% to 8.2%. Exposure to second-hand smoke in cars can make children more likely to wheeze and have poorer lung function than children exposed to second-hand smoke in other indoor settings, as well as non-exposed children.
ASH Scotland worked closely with the Scottish Government to support the proposal to ban smoking in vehicles containing children. We actively worked to raise awareness of this issue through our Big Lottery funded REFRESH (Reducing families' exposure to second-hand smoke in the home) research project in partnership with the Universities of Aberdeen and Edinburgh, followed by the subsequent Scottish Government Take It Right Outside campaign.
This work has proven to be very successful in raising awareness and reducing the exposure of the toxic effects of second-hand smoke to children. We continue to support further provisions to reduce the harm of second-hand smoke and to achieve a tobacco-free generation by 2034.
Welcoming the research on the impacts of smoke-free vehicles with children Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland said:
“Tobacco smoke is a harmful mixture of ultrafine particles, toxic chemicals and carbon monoxide. Breathing it in puts your health at risk. In the confined space of a vehicle, tobacco smoke quickly builds to high concentrations even with the windows open.
“It is great to see this research demonstrating the value of smoke-free laws, which raise awareness and save lives.”
1) The study, Associations between smoke-free vehicle legislation and childhood admissions to hospital for asthma in Scotland: an interrupted time-series analysis of whole-population data is published in The Lancet Public Health.
2) More information on REFRESH can be found here.
3) More information about the Take It Right Outside campaign can be found here.
 D.F Mackay, S.W Turner, S.E Semple, S. Dick, J.P Pell, Associations between smoke-free vehicle legislation and childhood admissions to hospital for asthma in Scotland: an interrupted time-series analysis of whole-population data, The Lancet Public Health, 2021
Action on Smoking & Health (Scotland) (ASH Scotland) is a registered Scottish charity (SC 010412) and a company limited by guarantee(Scottish company no 141711). The registered office is 8 Frederick Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HB.
ASH Scotland acknowledges with thanks the support of the British Heart Foundation and the Scottish Government in developing our website.