Anti-smoking pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has condemned a new sponsorship deal between tobacco brand Camel and the Yamaha MotoGP racing team.
ASH says the deal undermines “the spirit of the law” and could cause legal problems elsewhere in the world.
The sponsorship deal, which was announced earlier this week, comes six months after legislation outlawing tobacco sponsorship came into force across Europe.
The laws means the Camel logo will not be allowed to appear on Yamaha bikes or clothing during races held in the European Union. In the next season, ten of the 17 grand prix races are scheduled to be held in European countries. The MotoGP is shown widely across the EU, including on BBC1 in the UK.
The tie-up between Yamaha and Camel, owned by Japan Tobacco International will involve the Yamaha Factory MotoGP Team being renamed “Camel Yamaha” in 2006. Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis says Yamaha is looking forward “to working with Camel to enhance the respective images of our brands”. The team was previously sponsored by rival tobacco brand Gauloise.
But ASH research director Amanda Sandford says the pressure group will be writing to Yamaha to voice its concerns about the deal. She is also concerned that advertising at races outside the EU, which are broadcast in Europe, could contravene the rules.
Sandford added that ASH would also contact the European Commission about the legality of the agreement. She says: “The Commission has not always given clear guidance on this but we will be taking it up with them because it seems to undermine the spirit of the law.”