Sixteen passengers have been convicted for ignoring the smoking ban on commercial aircraft, according to a Legislative Council document released yesterday. The offenders were fined between $500 and $3,000 by the court between 2002 and the first quarter of this year. All the cases involved Cathay Pacific. The maximum penalty for smoking on an aircraft is $5,000. In the Health, Welfare and Food Bureau paper submitted to the Bills Committee yesterday, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair said their staff did not experience difficulties in enforcing the ban except when passengers smoked in the toilet. 'Evidence such as cigarette stubs were already flushed down the toilet,' the document read. Deputy Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Ingrid Yeung Ho Poi-yan told yesterday's committee meeting the government planned to help cigarette and news stands find new advertisers when the ban on tobacco advertising comes into effect as part of the anti-smoking law, should the bill pass. Mrs Yeung said some of the 723 stands earned $100 to $6,000 a month from tobacco advertising, but she added that the government had no plan to offer any compensation for the loss of income. However, legislators were split over the government's plan to ban tobacco advertisements at the stands. Legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip accused the government of ignoring the livelihood of the stand owners. 'Most stands already face very fierce competition from the convenience store chains. Many owners are elderly or disabled people,' he said.