SMOKING outside pubs and restaurants could be banned due to second-hand smoke.

Ministers will today face furious demands to stop outdoor smoking as the country begins to spend more time at venues outside.

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The I reports a new paper backed by health campaigners and peers has warned following the European-style “cafe culture” must not come at the expense of the nation’s health.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Northover said: “Reducing smoking in public places has been hugely important for improving public health in the UK.

“However, with pavement licences being introduced to help support our hospitality industry as we relax lockdown, the Government should not allow this to become an excuse for increasing smoking in public places.

“As a result of the pandemic, more and more people are spending time with friends, family and loved ones outside. We must ensure these new pavement areas can be enjoyed by all.”

The former Tory Cabinet minister Lord Young claimed he was worried about the impact of outdoor smoking on staff.

He said: “If you have licensed drinking on the pavements, employees will have to come out to collect glasses and will be in a smoking environment."

The paper was backed by health campaigners, who warned the pandemic was no excuse to let second-hand smoke slide.

Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer Research UK, said: “The pandemic has changed the way we live and most of us are spending more time outside. But being stuck in a queue or outside a café, escaping second hand smoke isn’t an easy option anymore.

“Second-hand smoke is harmful and can be unpleasant to those nearby and smoke-free environments are important in protecting people and denormalising smoking in society.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We are helping our pubs, cafes and restaurants return to work safely by making it quicker, easier and cheaper for them to set up outdoor seating and street stalls to serve food and drink.

“As part of this process, councils will be able to set local conditions for licences. As set out in supporting guidance, councils should consider public health and safety when setting these conditions.”

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