Campaigners are calling for “urgent action” to protect the lungs of children now they are back at school after the summer break.

Concerns about the harm caused to youngsters through passive smoking and pollution from cars have been expressed by Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland.

That has led to the Scottish Government being asked to ban smoking at school gates.

A plea has also been issued for a ban on vehicle idling outside local schools, with tough action taken against motorists responsible for such behaviour.

Joseph Carter, head of Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Scotland, said: “As we begin to come out of the coronavirus pandemic and our children go back to school, it’s important not to forget to take care of respiratory health.

“There are several factors to consider but the biggest issues are passive smoking and air pollution.

“As children’s lungs are still developing, it is so important they are able to breathe in clean air on their route to school every day. That’s why we’re calling on the Scottish Government to commit to banning vehicle idling and smoking around schools and playgrounds.

“It is vital we take action now to protect the next generation’s lungs from the effects of air pollution and smoke in years to come.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said improving air quality is being treated as “an urgent priority.”

“We’re taking action across the board to deliver this,” he added.

“We recently published our updated air quality strategy, setting out how Scotland can achieve the best air quality in Europe,” he added. “To make that happen, we need more people to make the switch from cars to active travel and public transport, in line with easing of Covid restrictions.

“That’s why we’ve committed to reducing motor vehicle kilometres by 20% by 2030. That is backed by new funding of over £500million over five years for active travel infrastructure, access to bikes and behaviour change schemes.

“We are also investing £500million in bus priority infrastructure to tackle the negative impacts of congestion on bus services, providing a positive alternative to the car.”