A CHEST consultant in the North-East has welcomed a study revealing a big drop in the number of children admitted to hospital with asthma after the workplace smoking ban was introduced.

Dr John Furness, a consultant paediatrician at Darlington Memorial Hospital, said the new study - which showed a 12.3 per cent fall in admissions in England in the first year after the law was introduced in July 2007 - duplicated similar studies in Scotland and North America following similar bans.

"The key message from this study is that smoking is no good for children's lungs and I hope it will encourage more parents to give it up," said Dr Furness.

But he pointed out that paediatricians across the country had reported an apparent increase in child asthma admissions during 2012.

"We had an a very unusual year in 2012 with an unusual number of asthma cases admitted. It included many children who had not been previously diagnosed with asthma. We don't know if it was the weather. We think it may just have been a blip," he added.

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, the NHS-funded organisation which campaigns to reduce North-East smoking levels, said: "This is really good news but we still need to get across the message that kids deserve to be protected."

She added that it was important to encourage parents to quit, "because they are three times more likely to start if their parents smoke."