Shaun Woodward, who as parliamentary under secretary of state at the Northern Ireland Office led the province towards a smoke-free future, has been named as the UK's new tourism minister.
Woodward, who becomes minister for media and tourism after last week's cabinet reshuffle, replaces James Purnell, who has become pensions minister.
It was the Labour MP for St Helens South's decision last year to introduce a blanket ban in enclosed public spaces in Northern Ireland from April 2007, which heaped pressure on the Government to follow suit in England.
Born in Bristol in 1958, the former lecturer was first elected as MP for St Helens South in 2001.
A spokesman for the DCMS said it was his understanding that Woodward would be a direct replacement for Purnell taking on all his existing responsibilities.
Those responsibilities include broadcasting, film, music, tourism, alcohol and entertainment licensing, the press and censorship, IT and sustainable development.
In December 1999, Woodward defected to Labour from the Conservative Party. He is married to Camilla Sainsbury, the supermarket heiress, and is believed to be the only Labour MP with a butler.
By Chris Druce