Smoking will not be banned outright in public places in Scotland, the Scottish Executive has revealed.
Campaigners have raised fears over passive smoking
First Minister Jack McConnell said there would be an "open-ended consultation" on the issue.
But the consultation will not include specific proposals for a complete ban on lighting up in pubs and restaurants.
Smoking bans have been approved in Ireland and parts of the United States and the executive said it would consider that international experience.
The first minister said that he favoured designating local smoke-free zones.
He said the choices for Scotland ranged from national guidelines or rules to
no rules at all, or a compromise which could give local licensing authorities a
remit to designate certain areas or premises.
"My personal view is that there should be some areas in public where people
can go where they know there will not be smokers," he said.
"We have that on aeroplanes, but there should be other opportunities to do
"How far any ban or any regulations would go has to be determined largely by
Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace said he was still wrestling with what he viewed as a "classic Liberal dilemma", that of balancing the rights of smokers with the rights of others not to breathe smoke.