FIA confirms ban on tobacco advertising

The FIA, the world governing body of motor racing, confirmed today (21 November 2001) that tobacco advertising and sponsorship by cigarette makers will be banned at the end of the 2006 season. The World Motor Sport Council voted to ban tobacco ...

FIA confirms ban on tobacco advertising

The FIA, the world governing body of motor racing, confirmed today (21 November 2001) that tobacco advertising and sponsorship by cigarette makers will be banned at the end of the 2006 season. The World Motor Sport Council voted to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship in October of 2001, and Mosley's presence at the Tobacco Free Sports launch will reinforce the FIA's decision to bring a block into place by 2006.

The decision will have a major financial impact for many Formula 1 teams. Five teams ran tobacco advertising in 2001 - Ferrari (Marlboro), McLaren (West), Jordan (Benson and Hedges), Benetton (Mild Seven) and BAR (British American Tobacco) - and with the current economic downturn this limitation on the use of potential sponsors could hit some outfits.

"Sponsorship by the tobacco industry of motor sport teams and events has occurred for over thirty years," a FIA policy statement said on the eve of the launch of the Tobacco Free Sports campaign which will take place in Geneva on Thursday. "Today tobacco sponsorship remains an important source of revenue for a number of Formula 1 and World Rally Championship teams. The precise value of such sponsorship is hard to estimate but probably exceeds 350 million dollars per year" added the statement.

The issue of tobacco sponsorship in motor racing has caused major controversy in recent years with some European nations insisting that all tobacco advertising be removed from cars taking part in races in their countries.

Technology companies, which teams have turned to in place of their usual tobacco partners, are likely to be most affected by a worldwide recession and so may limit their sport sponsorship.

Other motorsport series are also likely to be affected, including the World Rally Championship. America's most popular auto racing series NASCAR is already feeling some effects from the recession. "Earlier this season there were 44 full-time teams who showed up at every race," Lake Speed Jr., spokesman for Melling Racing, told CNN. "Now there's 42, and many of us don't have sponsors for next year." The increased costs of competing in NASCAR, combined with stagnant prize funds and the recession have left many team and circuit owners in difficulty when trying to put together a programme for next year.

This may also be the case in Formula 1 when the current Concorde Agreement comes to an end in 2007. There is already debate about the allocation of revenue from such areas as TV rights, and this may increase after the tobacco ban comes into force the previous year.

Thursday's launch will take place at Geneva's International Conference Centre. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and world football governing body FIFA will also be present.

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