The Commission comes at tobacco again

THE European Commission hopes to bounce back from its embarrassing flop last autumn when the European Court declared the EU's tobacco advertising bill to be illegal. The Commission will soon introduce new bans to stop all major sports sponsorship's by tobacco companies in the European Union. The new ban will have no special deal for Formula 1. The new proposals call for a complete ban with immediate effect and so could became law by the year 2004 although it could take a lot longer for the national governments which do not already have anti-tobacco laws. The proposed new law will try to stop the current system whereby each country has a different attitude to tobacco advertising. In Italy, for example, there is a ban but F1 teams pay a small fine and can then race with tobacco liveries. In other countries the Grands Prix are allowed tobacco advertising because they are of international importance.

If the law does go ahead it will inevitably mean that some European races will be dropped from the calendar. This is probably a good thing for F1 as the sport is currently still heavily biased towards Europeans leaving other areas of the world without the possibility of a race.

There are still problems for the EU if the races are pushed out of Europe as the system cannot stop television pictures of races being beamed back into the EU countries with the cars in full tobacco-company liveries.

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