Hooking them young in Asia: the real reason for BAT’s involvement in F1

Friday 09 July 2004

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00:01 Friday 9th July 2004
New research released today reveals that BAT’s motives for getting involved in Formula One Motor racing had more to do with promoting its cigarettes to young people in developing countries than its professed interest in becoming a leader in motor racing. [1] An examination of  BAT internal documents has shown that the purpose of establishing the British American Racing (BAR) team was to increase BAT’s exposure in the broadcast media and to specifically target young people in the emerging Asian markets.

The researchers, who scrutinised approximately 750,000 pages of BAT documents dating from 1996 to 2001, found that tobacco sponsorship of motor sports through the Lucky Strike brand facilitated a ”potential for targeting young people on an international scale”  through TV broadcasting.  BAT also investigated merchandising activities aimed at children. The authors note that BAR has not performed well in the Formula One circuit and yet BAT continues to pump huge sums of money into the team. This suggests that BAT is deriving significant benefits from the advertising exposure and has had more success in selling cigarettes than it has in competitive motor racing.

Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:

“This is a classic example of how tobacco companies have used sport, and Formula One in particular, to blatantly promote their deadly products to impressionable young people. The evidence revealed today shows definitively that BAT is still cynically trying to hook young people into life-long addiction through its BAR team.

“This research underlines the importance of the global treaty on tobacco which will help bring about an end to this despicable form of marketing. Governments must enact strong legislation to prevent tobacco companies using sport as a means of promoting their brands.”

Notes and links:

[1]  Carlyle, J et al.  Making it truly global.  British American Tobacco and Formula 1 motor racing.  BMJ 2004; 329:  104-6. bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/329/7457/104?ecoll

For more information about the tobacco industry’s involvement in Formula One see the ASH release and media briefing of 10/9/03: www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/formula-one-blackmailers-threaten-global-tobacco-treaty


Contact: Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available