Despite next year's ban on the sponsorship of international motor sport by tobacco companies, Formula One (the commercial monopoly that controls the sport) seems unwilling to sever its ties with the smoking giants.

In defiance of the ban -- and calls from public health experts to end the cigarette/sport alliance [WAMN:13-Jul-04] -- several F1 teams, including Switzerland's Sauber Petronas, have held discussions with tobacco companies over sponsorship rights, although Sauber refuses to name names.

F1 is run virtually singlehandedly by diminutive Briton Bernie Ecclestone, whose personal wealth is estimated by Forbes magazine at over £3 billion [$5.45bn; €4.53bn].

His relaxed views on the issue have angered anti-smoking campaigners and seem likely to bear out the British Medical Journal's prediction that F1 is not committed to absolving itself from tobacco ties by 2006.

British American Tobacco is expected to continue its involvement with its own F1 team, British American Racing.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff