Tobacco deal with tennis organisation may breach UK and international law

Saturday 31 October 2009
Six years after the ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship in the UK, a London-based sports body stands accused of breaching the law by promoting a cigarette brand on its website.[1]
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) which represents the world’s top male tennis players, is responsible for the sponsorship contracts for the various international tournaments.
The next ATP World Tour tournament, which is due to take place in Basel, Switzerland from 31 October to 8 November, is sponsored by Davidoff, a cigarette brand manufactured by Imperial Tobacco. The Swiss indoor tournament is believed to be the only one in the world to be sponsored by a tobacco company.
 
British-based Imperial Tobacco acquired the Davidoff cigarette brand in 2006 and has exploited the weak law in Switzerland which still allows events to be sponsored by tobacco companies, although tobacco advertising on television is banned. However, the televising of the event means that tobacco advertising will be beamed into the homes of more than one billion people worldwide, [2] contrary to Article 13 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which has been signed by 160 countries worldwide. [3]
 
ASH has written to the ATP urging the organisation to end its ties with the tobacco industry when the current contract comes to an end and is seeking clarification from the Department of Health regarding the possible breach of UK law.
 
Amanda Sandford, Research Manager of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:
 
“It’s sickening to see a major sports body being sullied by its association with tobacco.
By accepting tobacco industry cash the ATP is tarnishing the image of professional tennis and is sending out the message that money overrides morality. No other major tournament is tainted by tobacco money so there can be no reason why alternative sponsors could not be found for the Swiss indoor event.”
 
Pascal Diethelm, President of the campaign group OxyRomandie who is the lead campaigner against the Davidoff sponsorship in Switzerland, commented:
 
“The Davidoff Swiss Indoors tennis tournament is afflicted with a serious kind of “doping” problem: it is hooked on tobacco money. At the end of last year’s tournament young ball boys and girls received a medal from Roger Federer bearing the Davidoff logo to make sure that these potential future smokers would know which cigarette brand to choose when they start smoking ”
 
ENDS
 
Notes and links:
[1] Details of the Davidoff sponsored event can be seen at: http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Tournaments/Basel.aspx
which links to the official Davidoff sponsored site.
Davidoff cigarettes are sold in many EU countries, North America and the Middle East. Davidoff is also a luxury goods brand owned by the Swiss company Oettinger-Davidoff. However the branding used to sponsor the tennis tournament is that of Davidoff cigarettes.
 
Section 10 (1) of the UK Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 states:
A person who is party to a sponsorship agreement is guilty of an offence if the purpose or effect of anything done as a result of the agreement is to promote a tobacco product in the United Kingdom.
 
[2] Davidoff boasts on its website that “banner advertising on Centre Court reaches more than one billion people in 70 countries around the world”
 
[3] The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an international agreement initiated by WHO which has been ratified by 160 countries worldwide. The UK and EU are Parties to the convention. The FCTC commits Parties to a range of tobacco control measures including a ban on tobacco promotion. Article 13 states:
 
Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
1. Parties recognize that a comprehensive ban on advertising, promotion and sponsorship would reduce the consumption of tobacco products.
2. Each Party shall in accordance with its constitution or constitutional principles, undertake a comprehensive ban of all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
 
Article 13.7 states:
Parties which have a ban on certain forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and
sponsorship have the sovereign right to ban those forms of cross-border tobacco advertising,
promotion and sponsorship entering their territory and to impose equal penalties as those
applicable to domestic advertising, promotion and sponsorship originating from their territory
in accordance with their national law.
 
Contact: Amanda Sandford on 020 7739 5902 (w) ISDN available