Smoking in beer gardens and restaurant terraces could be banned as hospitality moves to a more al fresco way of operating.

Emergency legislation has temporarily relaxed licensing laws to allow operators to serve drinks outside their premises more easily.

But now a cross-party group of peers is reportedly preparing to table an amendment to the legislation that will ensure pavement licenses are only granted to those that ban smoking.

It could mean that pubs and cafes will have to ban customers from smoking in order to receive permission to serve pavement drinks.

Liberal Democrat Baroness Northover told the i Paper : "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, the Government should not allow this to become an excuse for increasing smoking in public places.

"More and more people are spending time with friends, family and loved ones outside.

"We must ensure that these new pavement areas can be enjoyed by all."

Operators have been permitted to use pavements and other outside spaces in a big to boost the ailing hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anti-smoking campaigners have backed the amendment, with particular concerns held over the potential for pavement licences to put people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government told the paper: “We are helping our pubs, cafés 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.

“Councils will be able to set local conditions for licences. As set out in supporting guidance, councils should consider public health when setting these conditions.”