Smokers will not be able to foster children under three from next month
Smokers in Falkirk will not be able to foster children under three from next month - unless there are "exceptional circumstances".
Council members voted to implement the ban to meet guidelines outlined by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).
The ban follows similar moves in Perth, Dundee and South Lanarkshire.
The council said the policy resulted from research showing smoke could cause cancer and respiratory disease.
From December, the local authority will ban smokers from being carers where a child is under three years of age.
This will be extended to all those under five by December next year.
The ban will also apply to carers where children of any age suffer a disability, respiratory or heart problems.
Youngsters who come from non-smoking households will also be prevented from living with smokers
Existing foster carers in the area will be asked to quit and given support and information to do so.
The local authority said it intends to be fully compliant with the BAAF guidelines by December 2009.
There are currently 244 children in the Falkirk area who need foster or adoptive parents.
That number compares with just 172 for August 2006.
Janet Birks, director of social work services, said: "This isn't a blanket ban. The policy applies to placements involving children under the age of five and children considered high risk.
"It also makes provision for exceptional circumstances.
"The new policy is based on overwhelming medical evidence as well as advice from BAAF and is consistent with the views expressed by the Fostering Network, who represent the views of foster carers."
A spokesman for the Fostering Network denied the ban would affect the number of carers.
He said: "We don't think the move by Falkirk Council will have an impact on the shortage of foster carers.
"People who have the right skills and qualities to be a foster carer should not be put off from coming forward to care for older children if they have the occasional cigarette.
"We do expect all foster carers to provide a smoke-free environment. The dangers of passive smoking are well documented, and foster carers should not smoke in front of children - their health must always come first."