There have been some rather silly stories in the last 24 hours suggesting that Formula 1 can go on with its relationship with tobacco companies until beyond the planned global ban on tobacco advertising in motor racing in 2006. These seem to have arisen because of comments made by FIA President Max Mosley about the controversial European Union decision to bring forward its tobacco sponsorship ban until 2005. Mosley says that this could affect the imposition of a World Health Organisation ban in 2006.

Calling the European decision "an incredible piece of stupidity" Mosley said that it was now "virtually certain" that tobacco sponsorship will go on. This however does not take into account the International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards agreement of September 11 2001 in which the major tobacco companies agreed to stop all sports sponsorships by December 1 2006. The agreement defined the minimum restrictions which the companies agreed to place on themselves worldwide and created a common code of advertising and sponsorship standards which included an agreement to end sports sponsorships if the sport involved required "above-average physical fitness for someone of the age group of those taking part".

This is clearly the case in motor racing.

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