India moves to ban tobacco sponsorships

THE plans for there to be a Grand Prix in India within five years could be hit badly by news from Delhi that the government has drawn up a new bill which will ban smoking in public places and stop all tobacco advertising and sponsorships. According to the Indian government smoking is responsible for around one million deaths a year in India, a country with a population of one billion. It is reckoned that healthcare for those suffering from tobacco-related illnesses amounts to around $2.9bn a year.

The bill has been drawn up by the Indian cabinet and will be put before parliament when the next session begins on February 19. If the ban is adopted it will not help negotiations between the organizers of the Indian Grand Prix and the Formula 1 authorities who will probably press for an exemption to be made as F1 is an event of "international significance". This route has worked in several countries in the past and although F1's dependency on tobacco money has lessened in recent years, the industry is still a major contributor to the sport. India is a market in which many F1 sponsors would like a higher profile but there is no shortage of countries wanting to host Grands Prix so the F1 bosses re in a position where they pick and choose depending on who is offering the best conditions. A smoking ban in India is not going to help the Indians to achieve their aim.

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