The World Health Organisation moves on tobacco

LATER this week the World Health Organisation will begin its public hearings in preparation for its planned Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. We understand that around 500 submissions have been made by the tobacco industry and by anti-tobacco campaigners and these will be studied during the hearings. When these are completed formal negotiations should begin for an international treaty to ban tobacco advertising around the world.

The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile has already said that if that Convention is formalized it will ban all tobacco advertising in the sport at the end of the 2006 season. In the interim several European countries are pushing ahead with their plans to ban tobacco sponsorship within their own boundaries but as Belgium found out Formula 1 has a robust attitude to circuits in countries where tobacco advertising is not allowed.

Ultimately, however, Formula 1 teams have effectively accepted that tobacco money will run out in 2006 and several teams have already taken steps to replace that income. Tobacco company involvement in F1 is reducing already with Williams, Sauber, Jaguar, Minardi, Arrows and now Prost without tobacco backing. Thus the ban will only really affect the teams who are still dependent on tobacco money, principally Ferrari, British American Racing, McLaren, Jordan and Benetton.

Benetton is unlikely to continue with Mild Seven after the team is taken over by Renault next year while we have heard that both Jordan and McLaren are pushing their cigarette backers to pay more money if they wish to continue in the sport. Ferrari and British American Racing are more dependent on tobacco money but Ferrari should not have any trouble finding a sponsor of the same level and BAR is expected to be bought by Honda within a couple of years.

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