Business leaders are confident they can cope with the impact of the Government's controversial new smoking ban on trade in Kingston.

The ban, which comes into effect in summer 2007, covers all pubs, clubs and bars including private members clubs at an estimated cost to the treasury of £1.14billion. With Kingston's night-time economy so dependent on late-night drinking, even a small drop in trade would cost thousands, but many bar managers welcomed the ban and denied that it will hit their revenues hard.

Maeve Smith who owns the popular Rubicon bar in Surbiton said: "Generally we think it's a good thing, especially for the health of the staff, because it's not a healthy environment when it's smoky.

"I don't think it will have a detrimental effect on our trade. A lot of our customers have said they would welcome it and I don't think people will change their night out based on the fact that they can't smoke. It may hit pubs with lots of daytime trade harder though."

Figures estimating the cost of the ban to the hospitality industry are contradictory with BDO Stoy Howard estimating national job losses of around 32,000 while a YouGov survey found more people intended to visit pubs more often when they became smoke-free.

Graham McNally, town centre manager, said: "It will have an impact but everybody will be dealing with it and we already see workers outside buildings having a cigarette. It may have had a different effect if only a few places were going to go non-smoking.

"But what will be interesting is to see how the clubs will deal with it as it's much, much harder for people to step outside. We'll just have to wait and see."

Last August, the Cap in Hand pub in Surbiton became one of the first pubs in the borough to go non-smoking. After an initial drop in trade, the pub has developed an alternative client base and business is buoyant.

Manager Tony Cave said: "Our experience has been very positive and trade is really good at the moment. We get more families in and we do more food now and the biggest comment we get from customers is that the place smells clean and fresh.

"The pubs that have outside facilities like ours will be okay but I think the little, local ones may struggle."

The debate continues as to whether the ban is a major victory for the borough's health or a hallmark of the nanny state. Councillor Chrissie Hitchcock joined Edward Davey MP in denouncing the ban, saying it was an infringement of basic human rights. She said: "We all know the effects of smoking and it's your choice. I do think there should have been a middle ground the Government like taking lots of tax off us smokers after all.

"The ban won't stop me smoking because you can't tell people to stop. If anything they should do more educating in schools."

Mr Davey said: "I wanted a bit of freedom left so I wasn't in favour of a complete and utter ban. I wanted to strike a balance and I do believe that private members clubs should be able to make their own rules."