TIGHTER controls on tobacco promotions in China may lose the advertising industry at least one billion yuan (about HK$916 million) in business. Since the new regulations came into effect on Wednesday, advertising agencies have postponed tobacco promotion campaigns until details of the laws are clarified. The new regulations ban all tobacco advertising in the electronic and printed media, and restrict cigarette advertisements in public places, such as theatres, conference rooms and sports grounds. It is not clear whether tobacco firms' trademarks or symbols can still appear on billboards in sports venues, but the industry will be able to continue sponsoring events. Leo Burnett International group account director Benjamin Tsang said: 'In the past, though tobacco ads in the electronic and printed media were not allowed, there was an exemption for trademarks promotion with approval from the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).' If the new restrictions also ban the use of tobacco firms' trademarks or logos on billboards and pamphlets, then the sponsorship of sporting and cultural events is expected to be badly hit. Last year Philip Morris Asia used its Marlboro brand name to sponsor the eight-month-long national soccer league in China. The annual Hong Kong to Beijing motor rally is sponsored by British tobacco giant BAT Industries, which produces the 555 brand of cigarette. But it is thought no firm will join a sponsoring scheme which does not guarantee the promotion of its product. 'In the meantime, we are just holding up campaigns which may be affected by the new law,' said Mr Tsang. BBDO Worldwide, an international advertising agency, has also stopped planning for tobacco ads. Media executive Ellis Ng said: 'We prefer to stay on the sidelines until there is more information on how the new advertising law will be interpreted. 'However, as it is usual practice to book television commercial spots one month prior to actual broadcast, audiences will continue to see our cigarette advertisement [this month].' The firms refused to estimate the possible loss of tobacco advertising under the new legislation. But sources in the industry believe cigarette advertising expenditure, which includes sponsorship deals, accounted for about 10 per cent of total advertising spending in China, which reached 13.4 billion yuan in 1993. According to SRG China Adex, in Guangzhou alone, 455.98 million yuan was spent on television advertising between January and November last year. Cigarette adverts accounted for about 10 per cent of total spending, about 44.69 million yuan. In Shanghai and Beijing, the proportion of tobacco advertising has been shrinking. But for the first 11 months of last year, it still accounted for 43.17 million yuan, or 5.4 per cent of total television advertising expenditure in Shanghai. In Beijing, television advertising for tobacco accounted for 145,000 yuan in the first 11 months of 1994. Total advertising expenditure was 470.84 million yuan during the period. According to the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency, measures have been introduced to encourage more foreign advertising to compensate for the loss of revenue from tobacco. The moves allow more newspapers to double their pages for accommodating advertisements and to gradually abolish the three-tier rates system for local firms, joint ventures and foreign companies.