Hospitality industry leaders have been called to talks with the government over increasing the number of non- smoking areas in pubs and restaurants.
Reformed smoker Ms Jowell does not favour an outright ban
Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell says not enough is being done to meet the needs of non-smokers.
She told the Times newspaper she wanted the industry to improve conditions voluntarily rather than have a ban imposed.
But Ms Jowell said no-one would be bullied into a lifestyle they did not want.
"I would like to see the hospitality industry tap into the
huge numbers of non-smokers and reformed smokers like me who want to enjoy a
night out without infringing the rights of those who still want to smoke," she wrote in an article for the paper.
"There are millions of us, and yet the proportion of eating and drinking
places with no-smoking sections and decent air-con is still tiny", she said.
She argued it was in everyone's interests to offer a wider choice of venue and for industry to meet this "commercial vacuum".
Deborah Arnott, director Action on Smoking and Health, (ASH), said the government should produce legislation to ensure customers and workers could have a smoke-free environment.
"We feel people working in pubs and restaurants have a right to a smoke-free workplace, for that to happen legislation is necessary."
She said there had been no real progress since the Public Places Charter was launched five years ago.
Ms Arnett added: "We're concerned Tessa Jowell seems to think non-smoking areas and air conditioning will solve the problem.
"The evidence is neither of these protect people from carcinogens in cigarette smoke.
"All air conditioners do is circulate the air - it doesn't take out the carcinogens and anyone who's been in a restaurant will know the smoke drifts
over from the smoking areas to the non-smoking areas."
Mark Hastings from the British Beer and Pub Association defended the industry's progress in helping to improve air quality for customers.
He said a large number of pubs had separate smoking and non-smoking areas and just over 60% had clear signs outside their premises telling people what to expect in terms of smoking management policies.
Pubs and bars were also installing clean air purification systems which cost around £30,000.
Mr Hastings said: "We recognise there's a growing demand amongst customers for non-smoking areas. That's why we are seeking to deliver that and ensure there's a choice for smokers and non-smokers to allow them to be able to enjoy
their social lives."
He said the association had signed up to the voluntary Public
Places Charter on smoking, launched in 1998, which aims to improve conditions for non-smokers.