APRIL 12, 1996 A proposed ban on indirect advertising, which includes sponsorship, is removed from the Executive Council draft bill after complaints from the tobacco industry. The Tobacco Institute threatens to take the Government to court, claiming the measures contravened the territory's Bill of Rights. JUNE 2, 1996 Anti-smoking campaigners say plans for the Exco to reject tobacco advertising legislation for a second time are 'unthinkable'. The Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health calls on the Government to follow the example of other countries by replacing tobacco sponsorship with a tax levy to support sport and cultural events. Professor Judith Mackay of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control says they are behind achieving the World Health Organisation's goals. JANUARY 15, 1997 Dr Leong Che-hong puts forward a motion in the Legislative Council to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship. MARCH 12, 1997 Sports Development Board (SDB) chief executive Andrew Ma describes proposals to ban tobacco sponsorship as 'hypocritical'. He says he finds it difficult to see how the Government can ban tobacco sponsorship when the produce is not outrightly prohibited. He vows the SDB will find alternative forms of backing should the Government endorse the tobacco sponsorship prohibition. MARCH 13, 1997 The Legco debate on banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship of sports, culture and the arts sparks concern among tobacco companies and sports organisations. Sports officials fear the loss of an estimated $200 million pumped into sport every year would cripple the development of many sports and would threaten tobacco-backed events if such legislation was passed into law. JUNE 4, 1997 Moves to ban tobacco advertisements cause fierce debate between legislators and sporting bodies, including the Hong Kong Tennis Association, with the latter saying if the law is passed, it will be a dark day for Hong Kong sport. JUNE 24, 1997 A Government bill seeking to ban tobacco advertisements passes into Hong Kong law. With the passage of the Smoking (Public Health) (Amendment) Bill 1997, display advertisements including billboards, light projections from buildings and tobacco advertisements in the print media are prohibited. Cigarette brand names are no longer allowed to appear as sponsorship for sports or cultural events. JUNE 26, 1997 Sports promoters seek loopholes to circumvent the ban on tobacco advertisements. Brian Catton, tournament director of the Marlboro Tennis Championships, says he had been looking for alternative ways to promote the event without violating the law. Catton emphasises the Marlboro event would go ahead as scheduled. FEBRUARY 9, 1998 Philip Morris announces that it is pulling out of the SAR's richest annual tennis event, because of anti-tobacco legislation, after 10 years of sponsorship. FEBRUARY 10, 1998 RJ Reynolds, sponsors of the Salem Open, the SAR's only ATP-ranked tournament, hints April's tournament could be the last. FEBRUARY 11, 1998 The Government says it has no plans to step in to take the place of the cigarette companies. Leading sports officials paint a grim picture in the wake of the gradual pull-out of tobacco sponsorship. Chau Tak-hay, secretary for recreation, culture and sports, says government has no plans to subsidise sports despite the tobacco companies pulling out.