Health and industry representatives have reacted with dismay to an exemption from a planned smoking ban for clubs and pubs not serving food.
Ban proposals went out to public consultation in June
The British Medical Association expressed its "utter disappointment" at the "wasted opportunity to protect the public's health".
The Royal College of Physicians said the decision would cause "wide dismay".
The British Beer and Pubs Association said it would threaten the livelihoods of publicans who still served food.
Cancer Research UK chief executive Professor Alex Markham said: "People will die as a consequence of this half-hearted decision.
"The scandalous fact is that the government is fully aware of this, and is reneging on its fundamental duty to protect the people.
"The compromised law will be unworkable.
"It also sends out a terrible message - that the government is prepared to protect the health of some workers while leaving others exposed to the seriously damaging effects of second-hand smoke."
"It is disgraceful that the people of England will not enjoy the health benefits afforded to those in other parts of the UK, where total bans are planned.
"We are utterly dismayed that the government has not listened to doctors, health charities and the public, all of whom have voiced overwhelming support for a smoke-free law without exemptions.
"We will continue to do all that we can to get these exemptions dropped."
British Medical Association chairman James Johnson said: "I cannot believe that, after consulting for three months, this government had decided not to listen to the vast amount of conclusive evidence that second-hand smoke kills and what was needed was a total ban.
"It is astonishing.
"The government has thrown away the opportunity of a lifetime to protect the public's health.
"They are letting down people all over the country, leaving workers in England exposed to health dangers from which their colleagues in Scotland, Northern Ireland and potentially Wales, are protected.
"The BMA will continue to lobby at every opportunity while this legislation goes through Parliament to try and change this situation."
Royal College of Physicians president Professor Carol Black said the exemptions would "deny protection to those at greatest risk".
"It is especially disappointing, given both the weight of evidence and the knowledge that similar policies have been implemented effectively with popular support in other countries."
Action on Smoking and Health director Deborah Arnott called the plans a "ridiculous mess".
"There is no excuse whatsoever for the government to accept that second-hand smoke is a serious health and safety issue, and then to try to exempt some of the employees most at risk."
Royal College of Nursing England director Tom Sandford said the RCN was "deeply dismayed".
"The government has wasted an opportunity to protect workers and members of the public who have no choice but to breathe in the smoke of others.
"Their proposals for a partial ban are unworkable, unenforceable and, bearing in mind the introduction of total bans in Scotland and Northern Ireland, totally illogical.
"The grim facts are that 30 people die from exposure to second-hand smoke every day - that is why only a total ban will do."
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This missed opportunity is very disappointing.
"The government is now going ahead with proposals that were overwhelmingly rejected in a public consultation as unworkable."
Rob Hayward, of the British Beer and Pubs Association, told BBC News pubs and bars would have to stop serving food to survive, which would contradict the healthy drinking message that people should eat before consuming alcohol.
"The Home Office wants us to get people to eat so they do not get drunk so easily.
"So we have got one government policy actually in contradiction to another.
"It is somewhat illogical.
"Pubs are in direct competition with clubs in many places in the country and this is going to endanger those businesses.
"There is going to be a large number of locations where people can choose to go and drink and smoke and it is going to hit pubs and bars very heavily indeed."
But Local Government Association public health spokesman Councillor David Rogers said council staff would find it "extremely difficult" to enforce the proposed ban.
"Do crisps qualify as food? Are pickled eggs?
"Given the public health threat from second-hand smoke, it is imperative that for the ban to work the rules are crystal clear."
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb said: "Smoking damages your health whether you are serving pork chops or pork scratchings.
"This cowardly decision by the Cabinet is a blow for the thousands of people working in bars and clubs, whose lives will continue to be put at risk by second-hand smoke.
"The parts of the country where people are least healthy are also the places where fewer pubs serve food, so these plans will increase the health gap in Britain.
"The result of the three month public consultation is being ignored."
No Smoking Day campaign chief executive Ben Youdan said the plans made "a mockery of public health".
"Health organisations in the UK have been unanimously behind complete smoke-free legislation and this useless compromise sticks two fingers up at them all.
"This proposal serves nobody.
"It fails to protect workers, forces smokers into foul stinking ghettos of cigarette smoke and will result in pubs losing trade.
"There is no compromise when it comes to protecting health.
"How many more deaths will it take before the government realises this?"
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy chief executive Phil Gray called the plans "confusing".
"By giving in to pressure from the tobacco industry, these watered down proposals may well succeed in generating revenue from taxes in the short-term.
"But without a serious reduction in the incidence of lung cancer and other illnesses related to inhaling tobacco smoke in enclosed public places, which we believe a full ban could have helped achieve, the NHS will pay dearly in the future."
Tobacco Manufacturers' Association chief executive Tim Lord said: "We are disappointed that there has not been a provision for separate smoking rooms in all pubs, restaurants and clubs.
"What is important is that choice is maintained."
Smokers' lobby group Forest director Simon Clark said: "People should be under no illusion that this is still an illiberal piece of legislation that severely restricts consumer choice and limits the rights of publicans and restaurateurs to run their business as they see fit."