Tobacco ban debate continues

The ongoing debate about banning tobacco advertising is continuing unabated as FIA president Max Mosley warned that Formula One races in the European Union could dwindle away. The World Health Organisation's ban on cigarette advertising was due to...

The ongoing debate about banning tobacco advertising is continuing unabated as FIA president Max Mosley warned that Formula One races in the European Union could dwindle away. The World Health Organisation's ban on cigarette advertising was due to come into force in 2006, which had been accepted by teams. However, the EU decided to bring forward the ban to 2005.

Mosley thinks F1 may be forced to drop EU races in favour of moving to countries that don't have tobacco advertising bans, as teams still have contracts with sponsors beyond the EU date. Therefore, F1 may rethink its agreement to end tobacco sponsorship in 2006.

"Instead of having a worldwide ban in 2006, which everyone had accepted was going to happen, we're now virtually certain to see tobacco sponsorship in Formula 1 going on until all of us have lost interest," he said. "The teams all signed their contracts (with tobacco sponsors) to the end of 2006. We've now got the teams with contracts to 2006 and an EU ban from July 2005."

"The only way they can observe those contracts in 2006 is to reduce the number of grands prix in the EU to a point where the tobacco companies don't object."

The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps has been dropped from this year's calendar and the Austrian GP at Speilberg will not be on the schedule next year, due to anti-tobacco laws. They will be replaced by Bahrain and China, countries that allow tobacco sponsorship.

"The worst thing about this (the EU ban) is that it is self-defeating because it still comes in on the television," Mosley added. "Instead of having a worldwide ban and lots of races in the EU in 2007, they'll probably still have tobacco advertising in 2007 and they'll have damaged the local economy in several places in Europe and aggravated us."

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Series Formula 1