The Cabinet has agreed to look at extending the smoking ban to cover outdoor areas where food is being served.

However, no time scale has been set for when any changes might be introduced.

A spokesperson for the Government said it would be considered as part of the implementation of the Tobacco Directive.

It comes after Fine Gael Senators tabled a private members bill calling on Minister for Health Simon Harris to change the existing legislation.

Former minister for health James Reilly has said smoking outdoors still poses a health risk and is annoying for those who want to eat outdoors.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, the Senator said that children should be protected from taking up the habit and they should not be exposed to smoking or see it as normal. 

The smoking ban came into effect in late March 2004.

A member of a smokers' representative group has said there is no medical justification for extending the ban to cover such outdoor areas.

Speaking on the same programme, John Mallon of the Forest Smokers Representative Group said a smoker's money was as good as anyone else's in a restaurant and separate indoor smoking rooms should be an option in restaurants.

He said that education on the dangers of smoking, drinking and bad diet is paramount for children and should be done by parents and teachers.

Meanwhile it has been confirmed that a cabinet meeting will take place near Clones in Co Monaghan on Friday 11 May.

The meeting will have a Brexit and Project 2040 focus.