Doctors' leaders have welcomed the publication of a new Smoking Prevention Action Plan for Scotland.
Dr Andrew Buist, a member of the BMA's Scottish Council and Deputy Chairman of the Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said:
"Tackling children's addiction to tobacco is rightly a top priority for this government. A lifetime addicted to tobacco is a death sentence. Every day 35 Scots die because of smoking related illnesses, but each day 41 new smokers are recruited. We must therefore do all we can to stop youngsters getting hooked in the first place by tackling the availability and attractiveness of cigarettes.
"Young people often buy cigarettes from vending machines because of the lack of age checks or they buy packs of ten because they are cheaper. Addressing these two issues would significantly reduce the availability of cigarettes to young people.
"There is evidence to suggest that the age limit regarding tobacco sales is not always properly enforced, which raises questions as to how effectively the recent age increase will be policed. The BMA supports tougher point of sales enforcement such as a positive licensing scheme, supported by a wider strategy to reduce young people's access to tobacco products.
"The BMA would like to see serious consideration given to other means of reducing young people's access to tobacco supported by long term investment in educational services to encourage young people not to start smoking and assist those wishing to stop. In particular more needs to be done to target youngsters from relatively deprived backgrounds.
"Too many people begin smoking during childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. Only through a multifaceted range of measures will we be able to tackle the biggest preventable cause of death in Scotland."
Dr Buist highlighted the importance of obtaining UK-wide support for this Scottish Action Plan. He said:
"The recommendations in this report are welcome but many of these need the support of the UK government in order to be implemented. We know that Scotland's politicians have the courage to take bold steps to tackle Scotland's biggest killer and it is now their job to convince politicians at Westminster to support this agenda."