Legislators yesterday criticised the government for acting too slowly to impose a total smoking ban in restaurants despite majority support from the public. Democrat legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo said the results of a government-commissioned survey showed most people were in favour of a smoking ban. 'I feel disappointed that the government said it would merely report to us their recommendations on the way forward at the end of the year, rather than concrete proposals on legislative amendments,' he told a Legco health services panel meeting. Colleague Yeung Sum warned passive smoking posed a health threat to non-smokers. The growing number of young smokers, he said, was also a concern. Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong said last week a total smoking ban had to be implemented, but hinted that it should be done in phases. Three-quarters of respondents to a series of government surveys said they preferred smoke-free restaurants. The surveys of 1,000 people interviewed last July and November and in January indicated restaurant business would rise by five per cent and more than 11,000 jobs would be created under a total smoking ban. However, the findings were contradicted by a survey commissioned by the Hong Kong Catering Industry Association, which along with the tobacco industry has called for flexibility if a total ban is implemented. Representing the catering constituency, Tommy Cheung Yu-yan warned a total smoking ban could increase unemployment and reduce caterers' turnover. The industry's survey, conducted by KPMG, indicated there would be a loss of $7.9 billion in catering receipts and 21,500 jobs if a total smoking ban was imposed in restaurants. Government officials and anti-smoking groups have dismissed the report as fundamentally flawed. Speaking after the Legco meeting, Professor Anthony Hedley, chairman of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health, said there should be no further delay in implementing a complete smoking ban for the sake of public health and the catering trade. The council has estimated the catering industry will gain an extra $2 billion a year from tourists, who would be more willing to dine in a smoke-free environment.