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JUNE 8, 1998

Canada closes down on tobacco

CANADIAN Health Minister Allan Rock last week introduced legislation which will result in a complete ban on tobacco sponsorship in Canada within five years. The 1997 Tobacco Act introduced all kinds of restrictions on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. These are due to come into effect in October but intense pressure from Imperial Tobacco Ltd. - which controls around 65% of the Canadian cigarette market - has led to these restrictions being amended to allow for a two-year period of grace, followed by three years of restrictions and then a total ban.

While officially Canadian Grand Prix sponsor Players (an Imperial brand) will continue for the next two years we heard last weekend that Players may well decide to pull out next year and that a deal has been struck for Air Canada to become the new backer for the race.

Quebec province, in which Montreal is situated, will not be bound by the national legislation from Ottawa so it remains to be seen exactly what will happen with Canada's tobacco ban. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has told the Canadian authorities that Grand Prix racing will pull out of Canada is it is not allowed to run cars with tobacco sponsorship.