Anti-tobacco lobbyist ASH has accused three major tobacco manufacturers of breaking sports sponsorship rules by using “delib-erately provocative” branding on racing cars at the British Grand Prix.
ASH has complained to the Committee for Monitoring Agree-ments on Tobacco Advertising & Sponsorship (Comatas) about the branding used by Marlboro, Roth-mans and Gallaher.
The committee is responsible for policing the voluntary agreements on advertising and sponsorship, which are drawn up between the tobacco industry and the Government.
Under the terms of the agreements, tobacco companies are banned from using “house or brand names or symbols” on the cars during television coverage.
ASH claims the companies used colours and symbols at the Silverstone Grand Prix on July 13 to remind viewers that they are the car’s sponsors, even though their names were not used.
The Marlboro-sponsored Ferrari displayed a red and white chevron, a design found on Marlboro cigarette packs, and the Williams car, sponsored by Rothmans, used the symbol “Ro?” on a blue background, which ASH describes as “a deliberately provocative act”. The gold-coloured Jordans car, sponsored by Gallaher, carried the words “Bitten & Hisses” instead of Benson & Hedges.
An ASH spokeswoman says: “The tobacco companies are seeing what they can get away with.”
A spokesman for Gallaher says: “We don’t accept that there has been a breach of the voluntary agreement. The design of the car is not a mirror of the cigarette pack.”
The British, French and German races are the only three out of 17 on the Grand Prix circuit where cars cannot carry tobacco sponsors’ brands.