The neon-lit streets of Yau Ma Tei were plunged into darkness last night as restaurants, clubs and shops protested against a proposed smoking ban by switching off their signs. The protesters said they wanted to symbolise the effects that a ban would have on business. 'If a smoking ban was imposed, business for saunas will fall 30 per cent, and a higher percentage for mahjong clubs, as they depend on smoking customers,' said Kwan Lim-ho, convenor of the Entertainment Business Rights Concern Group, one of the organisers. He said that more than half of Hong Kong's entertainment business members - including the owners of nightclubs, restaurants, saunas an mahjong parlours - joined the protest. 'They are very supportive because this is fatal,' Mr Kwan said. The protest began at 8pm with 500 lanterns handed out along Nathan Road and Ning Po Street. The neon signs were then switched off. Anita Lam Ching-man, of Buckingham Night Club, said business would fall by at least 50 per cent if the smoking ban were approved. 'About 90 per cent of our customers are smokers, even our staff members are smokers. If customers wanted to go out for a smoke we would have to ask them to pay the bill first. Then they won't want to stay for long. How can we run our business like that?' Ms Lam said that since Sars and the implementation of 24-hour mainland border checkpoints, business for nightclubs had already fallen by half. 'The smoking ban is going to kill us. Many have chosen to go to the mainland because it's cheaper and the quality isn't so bad. What's going to happen if they can't even smoke at our place?' Hui Wah-hung of bird's nest seller Wah Tei, said 30 to 40 per cent of customers smoked. 'Most mainland tourists are smokers. If they want to smoke what are we going to do? Tell them to leave the shop? How can we do our business?' The smoking ban is expected to be enacted next year.