Legislators were split yesterday over whether bars and clubs should be allowed to introduce smoking rooms when a total smoking ban is imposed in July. Opponents cited health fears and supporters cited business fears. The division arose as members of the Legislative Council's health services panel discussed a government study that found smoking rooms were not completely effective in stopping smoke from leaking out. 'The presence of smoking rooms actually encourages people not to quit smoking,' said Andrew Cheng Kar-foo of the Democratic Party, adding that the government should consider prosecuting bar owners if customers were caught smoking. But Vincent Fang Kang, of the Liberal Party, called for bars and clubs to be allowed smoking rooms as 'a lifeline to save their businesses'. The study, conducted for the government by the University of Science and Technology, found that it would be 'practically impossible to prevent leakage' when people moved in and out of smoking rooms. Legislators heard that the smoking room used in the experiment was set up to shut out particles as effectively as a hospital quarantine ward, but 10 to 50 per cent of smoke particles still leaked out, depending on conditions. Christopher Chao of the University of Science and Technology, who carried out the study, said the density of smoke particles could reach 2,000mg per cubic metre in smoking rooms, 20 times more than that in the busiest streets of Causeway Bay. Undersecretary for Food and Health Gabriel Leung said the government was neutral, and reiterated that the smoking ban would not necessarily take away business. 'Local and overseas experiences showed that businesses actually increased by as much as 30 per cent,' he said. Meanwhile, smoking will be banned in 91 indoor or covered transport interchanges in September. Professor Leung said a community education and promotion programme would be launched nearer the time.