Campaigners have told Scotland’s chief medical officer to stop fuelling “unwarranted fears” on smoking and vaping after urging retailers to stop people if caught doing this while queuing outside shops.

Dr Gregor Smith has asked retailers to put up notices warning people not to light up or vape outside shops.

In a memo sent to Scottish trade groups and reported by the Herald Dr Smith, he the issue had been raised as a “public concern over and above the fact that many find the passive inhaling of tobacco or vape drift unpleasant.”

While there is no scientific evidence that it can spread the virus, evidence discovered by the World Health Organisation suggests that smoking and vaping can increase the chances of dying from coronavirus.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Shops must have better things to do than nag returning customers about smoking or vaping.

“Most smokers are considerate and use their common sense when lighting up outside shops or in queues. They don’t need more notices telling them how to behave.

“It may be mildly annoying to some people, but not only is there is no evidence linking tobacco smoke or e-cigarette vapour with the spread of Covid-19, there is no evidence that smoking or vaping in the open air poses any significant threat to other people’s health.

“Instead of fuelling unwarranted fears about smokers and vapers, the CMO should focus on tackling a genuine public health issue, the ongoing coronavirus crisis.”