A MERSEYSIDE restaurant that banned customers from smoking in its beer garden has been given a prestigious award.

The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has given its first Fresh Air award to Barbacoa, thought to be the first restaurant in the UK to extend the smoking ban to its outside space.

The owners decided to make the move after feedback from its customers following a survey using social media.

Barbacoa owner Gordon Tartt said: "Customers were complaining that the outside of the restaurant was becoming an al fresco smoking lounge so we've created a place where people can eat and drink in a smoke free environment.

"During the fine weather people want to go outside but many were turned off by the huddle of smokers.

"It's already proving extremely popular and we’re delighted to receive the very first Fresh Air award."

Melody Holt, tobacco control manager for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation said: "This is the first smoke free beer garden that we're aware of and we would encourage other establishments to follow their lead.

"We believe it's really important that when people step outside for fresh air, that's what they should get rather than clouds of smoke.

"The dangers of passive smoking are well-known and we welcome any move that reduces the risk to people’s health."

The restaurant is in Crosby.