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Belgium bans tobacco advertising

THE Belgian parliament voted last week to ban all tobacco and cigarette advertising and sponsorship from the start of 1999 - disastrous news for the sport in that country, where local tobacco companies Bastos and Belga have been heavily involved for many years. The ban applies to all roadside and newspaper advertising and to sponsorship of sports and cultural events.

This could be very bad news for the Belgian GP as the spread of tobacco bans will probably lead to the dropping of one or more European events as demand for F1 races increases in the Far East. A small country like Belgium will be less able to hold onto its race than France, Britain and Germany where tobacco bans are already in place.

The ban will also make it much more difficult for Belgian drivers to get into Formula 1 which will in turn mean that interest in the sport in Belgium will probably decline.

The one thing in Spa's favor is that it is one of the most challenging and historic tracks which the F1 circus visits and it seems that F1 bosses are now tending to try to find challenging tracks to make racing better to watch, than trying to find ways of changing the technical regulations to ensure that the cars are evenly matched.

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