UK Government Tightens Screw on Tobacco Sponsorship

27 January 2003

All new tobacco sponsorship deals within the UK and entered into from February 2003 must terminate by the end of July, the government has decreed.

Outside Britain, UK-based tobacco sponsors of “significant global events” such as Formula 1 motor racing have been permitted an extension until July 2005. During this period, expenditure on advertising related to these events and its overall visibility must be reduced.

According to public health minister Hazel Blears, the latest restrictions are intended to minimize the harm caused by tobacco: “Smoking kills 120,000 people a year in the UK and sponsorship is one way people are persuaded to start smoking or dissuaded from stopping,” she opined.

The latest sponsorship limitations have been imposed in tandem with a comprehensive ban (effective February 14) on tobacco advertising via billboards, newspapers and magazines. Three months to the day later, all direct marketing contracts must be terminated and in-pack promotions ended.

Final drafts of the regulations covering point of sale advertising and brand sharing are to be notified to the European Commission under the Technical Standards Directive .

Meantime, Blears bugled her department’s achievements: “Bringing about an end to tobacco advertising is part of an integrated package of measures to tackle the death toll from smoking. We have put in place world class smoking cessation services with nicotine replacement therapy on the NHS and are running major education campaigns.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff