Pubs, cafes and restaurants will have to offer smokers and non-smokers separate outdoor seating areas under new government plans.
Premises should create a minimum two-metre distance between smoking and non-smoking areas, the proposals state.
It comes as more people drink and eat outside due to coronavirus social distancing rules.
On Saturday, councils called for the government to completely ban smoking outside premises to make them more family-friendly.
In an overnight announcement, however, the government rejected this.
It said an outdoor ban would lead to “significant closures and job losses” because pubs “have invested heavily” in outdoor smoking areas since the indoor smoking ban came into force in 2007.
The new plans will instead “ensure that customers are given more choice”, with the availability of separate seating areas.
Planning minister Christopher Pincher said: “We are supporting our pubs, cafes and restaurants to safely reopen, and securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to set up outdoor seating and stalls to serve food and drink – whilst protecting public health against the transmission of COVID.
“These changes will allow everyone to enjoy outdoor eating and drinking whether they smoke or not, with appropriate provisions made for non-smokers and smokers.”
As well as the two-metre distance between smoking and non-smoking areas, premises will have to display clear “no smoking” signage and ensure no ashtrays are provided in no-smoking zones.
The plans will be tabled in Parliament as an amendment to the business and planning bill, which is currently at its report stage in the House of Lords.
This is the ninth of 11 stages before a bill can gain royal assent and become law.
Pubs, cafes and restaurants were allowed to reopen in England on 4 July after the government eased its coronavirus lockdown.