National's political correctness eradicator, Wayne Mapp, is eyeing changes to the ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, which he says is an example of the "nanny state".

Dr Mapp told the Weekend Herald that he would canvass his fellow MPs on the issue and wanted to explore "reasonable compromises".

The legislation, which came into force last year, went too far, particularly the ban on smoking in RSAs and the strict rules governing smoking in outdoor areas, said Dr Mapp, who was appointed to the controversial position this week.

"Non-smokers are entitled to have a smoke-free environment, but you can get a reasonable balance on this."

Dr Mapp's comments incensed Labour MP Steve Chadwick, who was the law's sponsor.

"Why the heck would you reverse it when the public opinion groundswell - and what he's ignoring - is becoming powerfully supportive of the Smokefree Environments Bill?"

Ms Chadwick said she was not surprised Dr Mapp had targeted the smokefree legislation because he was looking for issues that had "pushed people's buttons".

"This isn't about political correctness - 75 per cent of New Zealanders don't smoke.

"Does he want to also look at the increase of health cost if he reverses the change? This is silly, this is madness," she said.

The Smokefree Environments Amendment Bill was passed in December 2003 by 68-52. National voted against it with the exception of the party's two medical doctors, Paul Hutchison and Lynda Scott.

Act also opposed the legislation, as did most NZ First and United Future MPs.

Labour, the Progressives and the Greens all voted in favour.

If Dr Mapp was to introduce a private member's bill - which is how leader Don Brash has said the party will advance its PC eradication plans - the vote is likely to be closer than in 2003 and the outcome could hinge on the Maori Party's four votes.

Co-leader Tariana Turia said yesterday that her party would not want to lift the ban in any way.

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who has drafted a private member's bill that would let restaurants and bars allow smoking inside as long as they had adequate ventilation and air quality, said he would consider a National proposal.

"My own view was always that the law would prove to be unworkable and would need review.

"I think any commonsense solution would be a good one.

"Some of the heat has gone out of the issue over the last year, which means we could have a more rational discussion than we could at the time when the original bill was being canvassed."

Action on Smoking and Health director Becky Freeman said she was surprised by Dr Mapp's comments, as she had been given an assurance before the election by Dr Hutchison - who was the National Party's health spokesman at the time - that the party had no intention of changing the legislation.

She was alarmed by Dr Mapp's suggestion.

"I don't think there is anything politically correct about saving people's lives. That is what New Zealand should be doing - striving to have a healthy workplace and healthy communities."

Hospitality Association chief executive Bruce Robertson said he would need to see more detail, but changes to the legislation could help the industry as long as they were applied evenly to all licensed establishments.

"We certainly always believed there should be much greater freedom of choice, that the ban on smoking is nanny state."