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JULY 12, 2003

Another tobacco company bites the dust

Players Ltd, the Canada-based tobacco company has confirmed that it is ending its involvement in motor racing because of the ever-increasing problems with anti-tobacco legislation. The news comes just a few months after Winston announced that it would not be continuing as the title sponsor for NASCAR. The company specifically said that its withdrawal from racing had been caused by the Canadian federal government's impending ban on tobacco company sponsorship of sports events. Under the law sponsorship activities cannot continue after October 1, 2003.

The Tobacco Act is being challenged in the courts but as the cases have not been heard there is no choice but for Players to stop its sponsorship.

Players played an important role in the development of the sport in Canada, funding the first international race in Canada in 1961 and in 1967 the first Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix. Players remained a sponsor of the Grand Prix until 2000. Players helped many young Canadians to success including Gilles Villeneuve and later his son Jacques. Players also supported other major racing events in Canada, notably the Indycar events in Toronto and Vancouver.

Since 1994 Players has been a major player in CART in the United States and won the title with Jacques Villeneuve in 1995. Villeneuve was followed by the likes of Greg Moore, Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani.