Research by The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that 50 per cent of adults would be more likely to use outdoor areas of restaurants, bars and pubs if they became designated smoke-free zones.
This year Bristol became the first UK city to ban smoking in outdoor public spaces after 61 per cent of locals supported the move, but it is up to individual bars and restaurants if they choose to comply.
Brighton is currently undergoing a public consultation over similar plans, which would extend the ban to the city's beach.
Martin Couchman OBE, deputy chief executive British Hospitality Association (BHA), said the group would resist any legislation forcing operators to prevent customers smoking on-site.
He said: “It's unclear who would enforce a ban on smoking in areas outside restaurants.
“We would strongly oppose any attempt to place legal responsibility on the restaurateur to control smoking outside the premises.
“The RSPH quotes a ban operating in some areas in Bristol, but this is a voluntary scheme, with no legal back up."
Under the groups’ proposals smoking e-cigarettes would be permitted outside restaurants and bars, which the RSPH hopes would encourage a greater number of smokers to use ‘safer sources of nicotine’.
Shirley Cramer CBE, chief executive of RSPH, said: "This would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction.
"Over 100,000 people die from smoking-related disease every year in the UK. While we have made good progress to reduce smoking rates, 1 in 5 of us still does."