Honda website
Honda website

DECEMBER 20, 2002

A little known fact

The Formula 1 circus is puffing and panting at the moment on the subject of tobacco sponsorship with the European Union being rather unhelpful in its attitudes. This has led to speculation that the plan to end tobacco sponsorship in 2006 will fall apart and that tobacco money will go on supporting the sport for years to come. This is not going to happen - at least not with the major tobacco companies.

It is a little-known fact that on September 11 2001 representatives of Philip Morris (which funds Ferrari), British American Tobacco (BAR) and Japan Tobacco (Renault) met in New York and agreed on document called International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards which defined the minimum restrictions which the companies agreed to place on themselves worldwide. They created a common code of advertising and sponsorship standards which included an agreement to end sports sponsorships on December 1 2006 on the understanding that the sport involved requires "above-average physical fitness for someone of the age group of those taking part".

The aim of this is to prevent youth smoking while ensuring that cigarette advertising and promotion is directed at informed adult smokers.

Philip Morris USA has already committed to voluntarily discontinuing its Marlboro sponsorship of automobile racing by December 1 2006. This date was chosen as it allowed the company "time for an orderly transition away from our racing sponsorship and event organizers with whom we may have contractual commitments".

The announcement of the new standards was completely lost in the media coverage of the terrorists attacks on New York and Washington that took place on the same day.

There are smaller F1 companies such as Imperial Tobacco (sponsors of McLaren) which are not party ot the agreement and this explains hints from McLaren boss Ron Dennis that he will challenge the FIA's planned tobacco ban because it breaks the terms of the Concorde Agreement. It could come to that although there have been rumours for some time that Imperial will not be staying with the team beyond the end of the existing contract and so the whole buisness would become irrelevant. Whatever the case he is not going to get any support from the other big tobacco companies and indeed they have committed themselves to trying to convince other tobacco companies to join the agreement.