01 October 1997

FURY ERUPTED from all quarters at the Government’s capitulation to what the British Medical Association called ‘the unholy alliance of tobacco manufacturers and Formula One organisers’. The furore broke after publication of a letter to the EU from Tessa Jowell, public health minister, insisting that Formula One events should not be included in the tobacco advertising directive as this would lead to the sport moving outside the EU whilst still televising races globally, complete with sponsorship messages. Instead, we were assured, Formula One itself would take ‘voluntary measures to reduce advertising’. Padraig Flynn, the EU social affairs commissioner warned that the exemption could ‘spell the end’ of the EC directive and pressure group ASH accused the Government of ‘blinking first’ in a stare-out with Formula One. It is, of course, sheer coincidence that health minister Jowell is married to David Mills, a City solicitor who acts as legal advisor to Benetton Formula One Racing - of which he was, until recently, also a non-executive director. Naturally, Mills refuses to act for Benetton ‘in any questions concerning tobacco sponsorship’. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association, alarmed that the government may include direct mail promotions and cigarette gift collection schemes in its tobacco advertising ban, is mailing an appeal to millions of cigarette gift voucher collectors. This urges them to write in protest to their local MP. Meantime, the DMA is forming an action group to resist any restrictive legislation.