'Critically, Formula One is a sport that appears comparatively content to be reliant on funding by tobacco companies and to be used to advance their global interests', comments Jeff Collin. 'The very structure of the sport is changing so as to more effectively promote the interests of its sponsors, shifting races from heavily regulated European markets towards important emergent markets, particularly in Asia.
'Several countries have granted advertising exemptions to Formula One. Others have effectively offered compensation for lost advertising opportunities in order to prevent the loss of coveted national races. These unfortunate practices reduce the financial incentives for teams to find alternative sponsors, exacerbated by the FIA's recent abandonment of its earlier commitment to become tobacco-free in 2006. This is arguably detrimental to the future of the sport, but is certainly damaging to global health. Drivers like Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button look set to continue in their role as the world's leading cigarette salesmen'.
The paper's authors studied internal BAT documents housed within the tobacco industry depositories in Guildford and Minnesota which reveal that BAT considered a merchandising deal with toy giant Hasbro and a computer game based on its leading driver. Participation in Formula One was also seen as politically advantageous, with its role as race host allowing opportunities for "tickling the soft underbelly of the decision makers"4.
'Widespread implementation of the Framework Convention, with comprehensive bans on tobacco advertisi
Contact: Lindsay Wright
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine