POLICE could soon be enforcing no-smoking regulations in cinemas once a complaints hotline is set up. The move aims to stamp out illegal smoking by giving cinema-goers the chance to report anyone who defies the ban, which carries a fine of up to $5,000. The hotline was prompted by calls from the Health and Welfare Branch, and is being set up by the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH). It is expected to be running within three to six months. Health and Welfare Branch assistant secretary Bobby Chan Kim-leung said it would need help from angry cinema-goers if the scheme was to be successful. 'Then we can pinpoint to the police those cinemas that are the worst, and perhaps beat officers can drop in and have a look,' he said. However, Health and Welfare bosses do not want the police to waste resources trying to enforce the anti-smoking laws. 'We have to avoid being coercive, but, at the same time, we have to enforce the ban,' Mr Chan said. Mongkok movie-goer Kammy Ho Yan-yan, 24, said she found herself reaching for a cigarette because 'the whole house was smoking'. But 23-year-old Man Chi-wai said the smoke was intensely irritating. 'I told the person in front of me to stop smoking but he just ignored me,' he said. 'I don't know where to complain. Cinema staff either don't care or are helpless.' The Health and Welfare Branch is seeking a complete ban on cigarette advertising. It aims to extend restrictions to cover the print media and tackle the controversial issue of sponsorship by tobacco companies. 'They [tobacco companies] should be able to realise that it is a global trend for developed countries to be clamping down on smoking,' Mr Chan said. Legislation now requires restaurants to display signs telling customers if they have a no-smoking section, he said. Mr Chan said the growing number of establishments with smoking restrictions showed the direction of public feeling. Health inspectors will take note of this in their routine checks of cinemas and the Health and Welfare Branch will devise fresh strategies based on initial findings, he said. A recent two-day COSH anti-smoking camp proved so popular that only 10 per cent of respondents were able to get in.