A former Stormont Health Minister is calling for smoking to be banned outside pubs and restaurants as more people drink and dine al fresco.
South Down MLA Jim Wells said moves to create a continental-style cafe culture over the summer must not come at the expense of public health.
"I've seen far too many people smoking outdoors. The risks that poses to everybody else are too great," he said.
"There is a clear link between passive smoking and ill health. The only place people should be allowed to smoke is the privacy of their own home.
"Other folk, sitting outside enjoying a meal or a drink, should not have to do so through second-hand smoke."
Mr Wells said it was also unfair on staff who had to collect dishes and glasses in that environment.
"Staff should not be expected to clear tables in a pall of smoke," he said.
I saw an elderly couple sitting outside a cafe yesterday. They removed their face masks to smoke... I was baffled by their actions. Covid-19 has killed 800 people in Northern Ireland, smoking kills 2,000 every yearJim Wells
"They have enough to worry about in terms of catching coronavirus."
The former DUP minister said smokers must not be allowed to ruin the outdoor dining and drinking experience for others.
"I saw an elderly couple sitting outside a cafe yesterday. They removed their face masks to smoke," he said. "I was baffled by their actions. Covid-19 has killed 800 people in Northern Ireland, smoking kills 2,000 every year."
Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw also expressed her concerns about smoking outdoors. "We are all well aware of the dangers of passive smoking," she said.
"The rise of it outdoors as we emerge from lockdown is something we need to discuss with public health experts and the hospitality industry. I'd suggest that a compromise could be allocating a certain part of a beer garden, or other premises, to smokers."
The Welsh Government is to ban smoking outdoors at pubs, cafes and restaurants.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething has made a commitment to "progress work" on the ban. Anti-smoking charity Ash Wales welcomed the move.
Earlier this week the Local Government Association urged peers to support an amendment to the Business and Planning Bill that would make all pavement licences issued by English councils subject to the condition that they are smoke-free places.
The proposal is opposed by the Government, which says that emergency legislation should not be used as "a backdoor route" to try to ban smoking outdoors.
Simon Clark of the smokers' group Forest described the proposal as "insane". He said there was no evidence that smoking outside was a significant risk to non-smokers.
"Government should be reducing red tape, not adding to it with arbitrary regulations that can only hurt the hospitality industry," he said.
Restaurateur and chef Antony Worrall Thompson said: "Why on Earth would the Lords and LGA want to discourage a substantial number of people from returning to pubs, cafes and restaurants?
"For smokers it is one of the few remaining pleasures, sitting al fresco, minding their own business, enjoying a glass of wine or a pint of beer.
"Allow landlords and customers to make up their own minds. It's all a matter of choice."