Restrictions on smoking in Wales may go further than in England, Health Minister Jane Hutt has said.
Ms Hutt said that smoking was likely to be banned in all public places in Wales, including all pubs.
She was responding to a White Paper which proposed a widespread ban in England, but would allow smoking in pubs not serving food.
Ms Hutt told AMs the Welsh assembly was to receive full powers over the future of smoking in public places in Wales.
She was speaking on Tuesday after the UK government published its White Paper on Public Health.
"For nearly two years the assembly has made its support for banning smoking in public places known," she said.
"The commitment given in the Public Health White Paper will allow us to move forward towards this goal."
She said that research released by the Welsh Consumer Council showed that three quarters of people in Wales support a ban on smoking in public places.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said the paper was likely to lead to a new law which would also restrict smoking in Wales, and said it was "a golden opportunity" to develop Welsh legislation.
In 2003, the assembly voted for a total smoking ban, even though it did not have the power to implement it.
Following that, a special committee of AMs was set up to look at the issue.
Powers to be devolved to the assembly as a result of the White Paper would allow Wales to press on with whatever is recommended by that committee.
Ms Hutt said: "The committee can now proceed confident in the knowledge that we will have the tools to turn its recommendations into reality."
Mr Hain had earlier said that the White Paper would "help the people of Wales live healthier lives".
"It offers a potential blueprint for managing the impacts of smoking, unhealthy eating and for safeguarding the health of future generations by limiting the impact of food advertising on children," he said.
Mr Hain had said any Bill to introduce restrictions on smoking in England would contain clauses that applied in Wales. The clauses would have to be agreed in Westminster before the UK government changed the law.
Smoking in pubs and restaurants has been banned in the Republic of Ireland since March and last week, it was announced by Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, that smoking in enclosed public spaces there would be banned by the spring of 2006.
Pro-smoking campaigners said businesses should be allowed to choose the policy that best suited their staff and customers.
Forest director Simon Clark said:
"We support further restrictions but we vehemently oppose what has become a systematic attempt to demonise smokers and their perfectly legal habit."
Among other plans in the White Paper are a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm on TV to protect children and a "traffic light" system showing shoppers how healthy the food they are buying is.
This Have Your Say is now closed. Here is a selection of your comments:
In the interest of smokers, non-smokers, the NHS and other caring bodies - smoking should be BANNED from all public places. There is NO room for cynicism or complacency in this matter.
Jyoti Sen, Bridgend, Wales
I'm pleased that we in Wales look like getting the more severe ban than the watered down proposal for England. Bring it on!
Martin Glaister, Cardiff Wales
Firstly, I think its absolutely shocking that a total ban should be considered whilst tobacco products continue to be legally sold. That said, I am a smoker and am all for a ban in any eating environment. But to ban smoking from pubs is both unfair and will be commercial suicide. There should be facilities for both smokers and non smokers in pubs. It should be all about choice. If a total ban does come about, in this day and age and with some of the petty things considered discrimination, surely this would be classed as such?
Robert Daniels, Cardiff, Wales
As an asthmatic I restrict my visits to the pub to about once a month. I'd like to go more often but am put off by the thought of breathing in smoke. A society that fails to restrict smoking obliges those who care about their health to live a less enjoyable life.
Nick, Warsaw, Poland
It takes me back to the days when the pubs were shut on Sundays in Wales and half the population decanted over the border. And look how many accidents that led to.
It is not the job of government to decide how we should live. I think it should be up to the owner of the pub. If the government want to ban it then OK, it should be banned in all government buildings but beyond that it should not be up to them. It's not that I disagree with the idea of banning smoking - probably a good thing - but where will it end? Some owners will lose money and not want the ban. Making peoples lives more difficult is antisocial behaviour isn't it? Should we ban the government?
Tim, Caerphilly UK
I am on holiday in California with my daughter and grandchildren. Here smoking is banned in enclosed public places.When they visit me in Wales, they are horrified at the sight of so many people freely smoking with disregard for anyone else.
Irene Jones, Wenvoe, Cardiff, S.Wales
I agree with a ban but I don't think Wales should do anything different to the rest of the UK. A waste of money when we have a Parliament. We could see people driving over the Severn Bridge to England to smoke!
Steve Goodland, Newport
As an ex-smoker I would like to see a ban on smoking in ALL public places especially pubs
C J Coughlan, Carmarthen Wales
First they will ban smoking in pubs, then drinking and then laughing! When will the Government and Assembly realise that we are adults and therefore can make our own choices. This includes the non-smokers too, who can choose to stand/sit elsewhere!!
Shelly, Cardiff, Wales
The bottom line here is that the smokers insist it's their "right" to smoke. Of course it is. In the privacy of their own bathroom. As many "normal" commentators have said, I also have a "right" not to have to breathe their smoke. And, please don't tell me that second-hand smoke is not harmful. Just look at the world, does any other mammal light up? Personally, I would ban smoking on the beaches here in Florida - why do these smokers think they have the right to leave their dog-ends here for the eco-system to take 600 years to get rid of them? Get a life, smokers. Kill yourselves, not others.
Aled, St .Petersburg, FL, USA
As a non-smoker, I find it rather worrying that a government can to try and enforce an outright ban on smoking in public places. There has to be choice - I appreciate that people need places where there is no smoking allowed but I feel places must be available for smokers to go to as well. Otherwise this would just be political discrimination against smokers.
Suzie Jones, Cardiff, Wales
I think smoking should be banned in all public places. I worked in a bar for two years and suffered constantly from throat and chest infections caused by working in such a smokey environment. As a non-smoker I found it difficult to work in the pub because of the smoke. I would choose a non-smoking restaurant/pub over a smoking pub.
Louise , Swansea, Wales
I'm a "social smoker" for want of a better phrase. The fact is it is rather anti-social and only accepted because pubs have always been smoke-filled. I would certainly support a ban because I usually smoke in the pub - being banned from doing so will simply mean I can't, and will probably lead to me stopping altogether as I don't smoke at home. Add to this the fact that bar staff and non-smoking customers generally object to smoking but have no choice in the matter I believe it is a good idea.
Nick, Reading, UK
This a practical example of why the National Assembly for Wales should be replaced by a proper Parliament with the powers to take action to improve the lives of its people.
Assembly Members in Wales voted in favour of gaining additional powers to introduce a ban on smoking in public places back in January 2003, but we have been forced to wait almost two years for England to decide whether or not anything should be done about it.
A proper Welsh Parliament with the power to put forward its own legislative programme would have enabled Wales to lead the way on the issue of a smoking ban; instead we have been forced to lag behind Scotland where the Executive has been able pursue this matter independently of England. This is an unacceptable situation and one which relegates the people of Wales to second class status.
Ioan Bellin, Cardiff, Wales (Plaid Cymru)
It works in Ireland, I would love to see a ban of smoking in all public places. Non-smokers have rights too.
Tina, St Athan, Vale of Glam
Of course it should be banned in any public place - either that or smokers learn to swallow their smoke.
Marc Russell, Pwllheli Wales
Why has it taken Ireland to go ahead with a full smoking ban for England to wake up to its senses?? So many people die every year due to smoking related illness' banning smoking in public places is the least we can do to save our future generations. My partner works in a bar and has done all his life, why should he have to work in a smokey atmosphere. He does not smoke non of our family do and yet he only has to be home an hour after work before our whole house smells of the stuff. What is more important having that fag inside the pub or knowing that if you smoke it outside you have saved at least one life.
Having just visited Ireland, I was surprised how well smokers had taken to the ban and most accepted it was for the benefit of everyone in the long term, smokers just got together and went outside of pubs and restaurants to a designated area away from entrances and had their smoke they then returned perhaps after 10 mins to "the party". These designated areas usually had some form of shelter in case of inclement weather. The sooner the re-introduction of clean air the better.
LordD, Swansea Wales
This ruling is long overdue. The majority of people who contract lung cancer do so through other people's smoke, which now thankfully may be able to be avoided on a greater scale thanks to this proposal. If people wish to smoke, fine, but do so in your own home and not in restaurants or town centres where we have to share your smoke too.
Paul Evans, Neath
Why not create designated smoking rooms for people who want to smoke? For example in a bar or restaurant these rooms could be created with proper smoking ventilation filters to ensure the health and safety of workers. I do not smoke but I believe in freedom of choice and not outcasting smokers who have a dependency on nicotine. Please, lets not be a nanny state (as we are turning slowly into) and come to a solution that offers both smokers and non smokers a choice.
Mark Hailes, Glynneath, Neath, S. Wales
I moved out to California some years ago from north Wales - we've had smoking restrictions here for five years - it's wonderful, it improves the quality of life for everyone.
Sian Poeschl, California, USA
Yes, smoking should definitely be banned in public places. It's never quite made sense to me how a minority of people think they can get away with damaging the majority of people's health. A nanny state? If so, surely this is better than thousands of smoking-related deaths each year!!!
Edward Davies , Carmarthen, Wales
I have no objection to smokers but I object to their selfishness in forcing me to breathe their smoke in public places. Why should we be forced to miss top music acts or have restricted choice because of my wife's asthma. Do theatres and public venues realise how much they would be sued for both corporately and individually (managers) if a death resulted from an asthmatic attack where they had ignored well publicised health risks. The ban works in Ireland without loss of trade. Musicians and punters enjoy the new social contacts with smoking breaks outside.
Gareth, Blaenafon, Wales
No, it should not be banned in public places.
Julie Edwards, Cardiff
Don't forget that employees in these places have a right to be protected from second hand smoke too, just as they do in offices or factories.
We have introduced the ban in Malta, and when there is no choice, smokers are learning to cope. One of the comments made asked about the impact on government revenue... This will not even come close to the cost of caring for the impact on health of smoking.
Vanessa Macdonald, Malta
I fully support a ban on smoking. The tobacco industry is one of the most destructive - especially for workers and the environment in the developing countries where the plant is grown. Vast tracts of land are used to grow tobacco for multinational companies, when they could be used for growing food for domestic consumption. When smokers go on about 'choice', they should think about how that choice affects others in the world.
Vicki, Llandrindod, Powys
I am fully in favour of a ban on smoking in public places. The risks associated with passive smoking are becoming clearer all the time. I gave up smoking 16 years ago but still have to breathe in other peoples stale smoke whenever I go to the pub. Let's make a stand now.
Peter Lockyear, Port Talbot, W Glam
Tony Durkin, Lytham St Annes: You made the choice for her, and yourself; you left. If you choose to go somewhere that smoking is allowed of your own free will then you can't blame the smokers, the management, or the Govt. for the health risk, you can only blame yourselves, you did not have to go there. It's called freedom of choice.
At long last I will be able to go to the pub and not come home smelling like an ashtray, as far as I am concerned the sooner the ban happens the better
Andrew, Chippenham, Wiltshire
Another example of the nanny state. How can the Government allow tobacco to be legal, but ban it in public places. They want the tax but don't want the smoke.
Steve Chapple, Cardiff, UK
I'm not a smoker and don't enjoy spending time in unpleasant fug but if smoking is banned in public places, the effect of Wales' rural pubs could be catastrophic. Many regular drinkers, on whom pubs rely for steady income, like to have a cigarette as they drink and without their custom, the pubs won't be able to stay open for the rest of us
Myfanwy Alexander, Llanfair Caereinion, Powys
I would be delighted if smoking were banned in public places, especially where there is food. As an asthmatic I find myself having to avoid places where I know there is smoking. I am fed up with my hair and clothes smelling of an old ashtray, but it's the damage to my lungs I worry about more. Private clubs etc. would be more difficult and maybe pubs could open a room specially for smokers and let the rest of us breathe [comparatively!] clean air.
Ann Sykes, Newport, South Wales
A smoking ban is stupid. If the owner of a bar or whatever wants people to be allowed to smoke there then its their choice. If people don't like it, they don't have to go there, and do people actually notice passive smoking taking an effect on their bodies?!? I certainly don't and I don't smoke, it certainly ain't the nicest of smells but you can't govern smells... Where would the line be drawn? Forced showers every few days to combat BO because its "antisocial"? Grow up, Labour!
Jack, Wrexham, N Wales
Yes, I do want a smoking ban in all public places, we've had to put up with other peoples habits for too long
Frances Harries, Rhayader
Andrew Hall, Reading, Berkshire
It's about time a ban came in. A couple of weeks ago, I was in a (rather small) cafe in a north Wales resort with my two-year-old daughter. No-one was smoking during most of our time there but then an elderly man came and sat at the table next to us and lit up - right in front of the child, with no hesitation, by your leave or thought for her welfare. We quickly paid the bill and left and, although it is no fault of the cafe owner, won't be going back there again. Smokers say the debate is all about choice, but where was my little daughter's choice in that scenario?
Tony Durkin, Lytham St Annes, England
Freedom of choice is the main issue here. It seems to me that if I own a pub (I don't) and allow others to smoke in it, and it is no surprise to those who are there, then what's the problem?
Why should that choice be taken away? It is no business of the government to police what people in a free society wish to do. But if it is a law to protect workers in the workplace, then I would agree with it, as long as there are workers there.
Huw Griffiths, Pontypridd, Wales
It would be great if I, as a non-smoker, could finally enjoy going to a pub knowing that I won't need to put my clothes into the washing machine afterwards. Hopefully people will realize that banning smoking in public areas is a good idea and that our health will benefit from it, no matter if smoker or non-smoker.
Susannah, Cardiff, Wales
I am a smoker, I want to give up, I would really welcome any law that would restrict smoking in Wales. However, what will the government do with regard to loss of revenue?
Karen Johnson, Magor
As a smoker I am not bothered by not smoking in restaurants etc (unless they have a smoking area). I would prefer to see defined areas for smokers and non smokers than a blanket ban. One associated comment is why oh why do we have a welsh assembly when it has no power to do anything without Westminster approval - surely the WA is a waste of money in the main!!!
Hywel, Newport, S Wales
What is the Welsh Assembly waiting for? Dublin has done it, Scotland has done it, why doesn't the Welsh Assembly take the lead and ban smoking in public places rather than follow England like a little puppy dog?
Gerallt Owen, Porthmadog
All for it - this cannot happen quickly enough.
We know only too well the health implications of passive and active smoking - at last the government is waking up and doing something to protect the health of the nation.
Hannah, Caerphilly, Mid Glam