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Formula 1 Dutch GP

Dutch health organisations file complaint over McLaren F1's nicotine branding

Several health organisations have filed a complaint against the McLaren Formula 1 team's Velo branding at next week's Dutch Grand Prix over its promotion of nicotine pouches.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Velo is one of the brands McLaren sponsor British American Tobacco has created to pivot away from cigarettes towards tobacco-free nicotine products, such as Velo's flavoured nicotine pouches or the Vuse brand's e-cigarettes.

In April this year, the Dutch government joined a growing list of European countries to ban the sale of all types of nicotine pouches over health concerns, in particular regarding the accessibility of addictive snus pouches and vapes to minors.

Crucially, however, Dutch legislation concerning the ban on advertising nicotine pouches is still a work in progress, meaning McLaren can legally go ahead carrying its Velo branding in Zandvoort.

"All branding carried on McLaren race cars fully complies with regulatory requirements and advertising standards of each country we race in," a team spokesperson confirmed to Motorsport.com.

That legal vacuum prompted an official complaint to the Dutch Advertising Code Committee by a group of Dutch health organisations, including the Dutch Heart Foundation and the KWF Dutch Cancer Society.

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Erik Junius

"It just goes to show again how the tobacco industry is doing everything in its power to keep young people addicted in order to keep this sickening and deadly business going," said Carla van Gils, director of KWF Dutch Cancer Society, in a press release.

"We find it bizarre that it is allowed to advertise a product that is banned."

McLaren's main Velo branding is displayed on the sidepod at all but seven 2023 races, where it is replaced by crypto firm OKX.

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In Zandvoort, the brand will be carried on the car as "LOVE" as part of a fan competition. The company launched a random draw on its social media channels through which 60 fans will see their name added to the MCL60 raced by Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

One contestant will also win a trip to the Dutch Grand Prix.

Smoking alternatives are still largely unregulated in many countries. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has banned the sale of all nicotine products to under-21s. In the UK, however, nicotine pouches are not yet classed as tobacco-related products - unlike vapes - and can be legally sold to under-18s.

Velo's Dutch Grand Prix fan competition was accessible only to fans over 18 years old.

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