Motorsport Tobacco Ad Laws Confuse Teams

28 July 2005

A smoky haze surrounds the imminent ban on Europe-wide sponsorship of international motor sport by tobacco companies, as UK Formula One motor racing teams struggle to comprehend the legal niceties.

The ban on cross-border print and radio cigarette advertising as well as event sponsorship comes into effect at the Hungarian Grand Prix race this Sunday, but British F1 teams are requesting the UK government clarify the new laws.

F1 has until now been exempt from the Act, which was passed three years ago, as tobacco advertising was deemed so important to motor sport.

The new legislation specifies that a British-based team could face prosecution if images of a tobacco-company sponsored race, including those held outside the European Union, are broadcast in the country. Teams based outside the UK, such as Ferrari, must respect the ban only if racing within the EU.

UK-based BAR-Honda team principal Nick Fry is, however, unsure whether the carrying of its usual Lucky Strike branding on racing cars will land him in jail. "We have spent six months trying to get clarification and we still do not know what the interpretation of the law will be … for it to be less than a week away now is frustrating to say the least."

To avoid prosecution, BAR's suitcases for the forthcoming trip to Budapest will include three different livery options and three sets of team clothing.

Data sourced from ITV Sport (UK); additional content by WARC staff