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Anti-tobacco lobby attacks F1

THE Action on Smoking and Health organization (ASH) joined forces with the British Liberal Democrat party last weekend to publish a report which claims to prove that tobacco sponsorship increases teenage smoking. Called "Formula 1 and Tobacco - The World's most dangerous sport" the report quotes evidence from confidential tobacco industry documents released as a result of litigation in the United States which is claimed to show both the intent and the rationale for using F1 to market cigarettes to the young. ASH wants the FIA President Max Mosley to stand by his promise in Melbourne in March to introduce a worldwide ban on tobacco sponsorship in F1 in 2002 if evidence could be produced that there was "a direct link" between tobacco sponsorship and smoking. The report cites nearly 50 different sources to highlight its arguments, although some of these could easily be challenged by the FIA.

The report hit the headlines in Britain before publication as a result of an attempt by David Ward, director general of the FIA's European Bureau, to dissuade the Liberal Democrats from backing the initiative. Ward ridiculed suggestions that he had been trying to pressure the party into backing down. "He was trying to exert pressure on us not to support this report," said a Liberal Democrat spokeswoman.

The FIA responded with criticism of the tactics being employed by ASH and the Liberal Democrats, pointing out that it could not understand: "why ASH has chosen to present its evidence on tobacco sponsorship to the FIA in a highly partisan event jointly sponsored by a minor UK political party."

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