Banning smoking in beer gardens would be an "outrageous affront to millions of people acting perfectly within the law", says Ukip deputy leader Paul Nuttall.

The Royal Society for Public Health says smoking should be seen as “abnormal” and wants more controls over where people can or cannot light up.

The Society argues the 2007 smoking ban inside public places had been a huge success and encouraged thousands to quit.

Its report calls for the ban "to be extended further to include school gates, the outside areas of bars and restaurants and all public parks and squares".

Mr Nuttall, MEP for the North West, said further controls on smoking would sound the death knell for the already under-pressure pub industry.

He said: “We should think back to 2007 before the smoking ban came in, when we were told it would increase the number of people visiting our pubs.

“The truth is the exact opposite happened. In the first six months of 2014 we were losing 31 pubs a week as the businesses closed down.

“The idea of now extending the smoking ban from inside the pub to the beer garden is ludicrous.

“The Royal Society even admits that this is nothing to do with passive smoking. They say that even the ‘sight’ of someone smoking could influence a child to do the same."

he added: “This is inflammatory nonsense and an outrageous affront to the ten million people who smoke perfectly legally.

“Presumably the Royal Society will want to ban BBC Crimewatch, as the sight of it on television might encourage children to break the law.

“This idea is from crackpot killjoys who refuse to accept that adults are free to make their own decisions and also know best how to bring up their own children.”

The pro-smoking campaign group Forest also believes the measures would not work and may lead to pubs closing.