AUGUST 26, 2003
Canadians reconfirm tobacco stance
The Federal Government in Canada says it will not bend its anti-tobacco laws in order to save the Canadian Grand Prix. There had been reports that an arrangement would be made to amend the law to allow tobacco backing at the F1 race for a couple more years but this has been denied by the Prime Minister's Office.
"The government has no intention whatsoever of amending the law," said a spokesman.
This means that if Canada is going to be saved it will have to be done by the teams and there are no signs of that happening as some of the tobacco companies are insistent that the race goes ahead with tobacco branding on the cars, or not at all. Attempts have been made in recent days to come up with financial solutions to the problem but we hear that not even this will sway some of the teams as the tobacco industry does not wish to be seen to be backing down as this would lead to more anti-tobacco legislation.
But F1's alliance with tobacco is also upsetting other sponsors who do not wish to be associated with cigarette advertising but have now been dragged into the issue against their will.
It seems therefore that this a problem that is not going to be solved and so Canada will probably not be on the calendar next year. And if that is the case getting the race back on the F1 calendar in the future will be a complex and expensive business.
It is worth noting that attendance at the Montreal CART race at the weekend was down 6,000 spectators from 64,000 in 2002. Overall the three-day event attracted 148,000, 24,000 less than at the first event last year.
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