A whisper from Japan

Bad news often comes at the same time, and we hear following the news of Fernando Alonso's planned departure from Renault F1 there will soon be an announcement that Japan Tobacco is not planning to go on with its Mild Seven sponsorship of the team beyond the end of the current deal at the end of 2006. The four-year extension of the deal which began in 1994 with a $20m sponsorship of the Benetton team, runs out in December 2006 and with the ever-increasing pressure on tobacco advertising it is being suggested that JT no longer sees F1 as as useful as was once the case.

Things have certainly changed at JT with the company having been privatised in 2004 and it is now operating from Switzerland. It is the third largest international tobacco manufacturer with net sales in 2004 of $39.5bn. The company owns the Camel, Mild Seven, Salem and Winston brands in addition to a number of other smaller brands such as Cabin, More and Yves St Laurent cigarettes.

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