A "mild" headache for Renault

The European Union is making life difficult for Formula 1 at the moment with a ban on the use of words such as "mild" and "light" from tobacco products which are sold in the European Union. The legislation was challenged in the European Court of Justice but was thrown out earlier this week with the judges arguing that it was appropriate to protect public health with such legislation. The court rejected the claim that the law was invalid because the EU does not have the power to legislate on health policy, and upheld the idea that the legislation is an attempt to harmonise standards within the Union.

This is significant in that a ban on tobacco sponsorship which is due to come into force in July 2005 is being pushed through on similar grounds.

The new ban will have a serious effect on a number of tobacco brands notably Mild Seven and Marlboro Lights. It is anticipated that some tobacco firms will now follow the lead of firms like Peter Stuyvesant which indicates the strength of its cigarettes by using different colours.

Mild Seven, which is owned by the world's third biggest tobacco company Japan Tobacco, says that it will now mounted a legal challenge to the European Union decision, arguing that the regulations infringe its copyright and trademark rights. Mild Seven is registered as a trademark in 132 countries and has asked the Court of Justice to rule that the new regulations are damaging its business while other tobacco companies will not be affected. The new rules are due to come into effect on September 30 2003 and if the ban goes ahead the Renault F1 team is going to have to change not only its name but also its sponsorship at all European events later this year.

This will not of course affect the non-European races and TV coverage of the cars will continue to beamed into Europe each weekend.

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