Tobacco bully-boy tactics force Government to weaken commitment to ad ban

Wednesday 05 November 1997

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release5 November 1997 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health

5 November 1997

Tobacco bully-boy tactics force Government to weaken commitment on ad ban

Reacting to the news that Formula One is to be exempt from the proposedEuropean Union ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship, Clive Bates, Director of ASH,said:

Once again the tobacco companies have used bully-boy tacticsto force the Government to weaken its stance on smoking control. The tobacco companieswill simply divert their huge marketing resources to Formula One which will now becomeinextricably linked with cigarettes.”

The Formula One organisers had threatened to withdraw from Europeanvenues and move the Grand Prix races to Eastern Europe and the Far East if the EUdirective went ahead with a ban on tobacco sponsorship. Unfortunately, the Government hasaccepted the threat at face value.

ASH believes the proposed international voluntary agreement to regulatetobacco involvement in Formula One racing is unlikely to have any real power, if the UKexample is anything to go by.

In July, ASH complained to COMATAS,[1] the body which regulates tobaccoadvertising and sponsorship, about the televising of the British Grand Prix which showedtobacco branding in contravention of the voluntary agreement on tobacco sponsorship ofsport.[2] COMATAS ruled that the use of the Marlboro chevron and Rothmans Racing Teamlogos were in breach of the agreement. However, the committee ruled that the”R?” on the Rothmans racing car and “Bitten and Hisses” used byGallaher on the Benson & Hedges sponsored Jordan car did not breach the agreement.

Reacting to the ruling, Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said: “Toadmit that the use of one particular symbol is a breach of the agreement while another isnot is plainly ridiculous. If the “R?” and “Bitten and Hisses” aremerely words which have no connection with tobacco as the companies claim, why botherusing them?

Bates added: “The tobacco companies have once againside-stepped the regulations governing tobacco promotion. This shows that the tobaccoindustry cannot be trusted to police itself and demonstrates clearly the need for a totalban on all forms of tobacco promotion.”



Notes to editors

[1] COMATAS – the Committee for theMonitoring of Agreements on Tobacco Advertising and Sponsorship – was set up in 1986 tomonitor the voluntary agreements. It is made up equally of tobacco industry and governmentofficials and has no powers to issue penalties when the agreements are broken.

[2] Paragraph G, Annex 1 of the voluntary agreement on the sponsorshipof sport by tobacco companies says: “The use of house or brand names or symbolson participants and officials, their vehicles, equipment and/or animals likely to comewithin the scope of the television cameras, is not permitted during the course of atelevised activity in the UK.

Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Amanda Sandford, Communications Director (020) 7739 5902

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