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Wednesday, December 3, 1997 Published at 06:07 GMT



UK

Formula One tobacco advertising to go
image: [ The Marlboro man - but for how much longer? ]
The Marlboro man - but for how much longer?

The Labour Party is facing accusations that it has done a policy U-turn after saying it wants Formula One motor racing to have only a temporary exemption from a tobacco advertsing ban on sports.

Conservatives say the Government has been embarrassed into shifting its position following the row over a 1m donation from Grand Prix boss Bernie Eccleston to Labour.

BBC correspondents say the Government was also facing opposition from other European Union countries who want a permanent ban on all sponsorship of sport by tobacco firms.

A fortnight ago the Public Health Minister Tessa Jowell said the Government was seeking a permanent exemption for Formula One from the European directive banning tobacco advertising and sports. But she has now told a House of Commons Committee that when she meets with her European counterparts on Thursday she will press for motor racing to only be excluded from the ban for a few more years.


[ image: Tessa Jowell: The lady's not for U-turning]
Tessa Jowell: The lady's not for U-turning
"There has been no change in Government policy," she said to Tory jeers. "This Government is going to ban tobacco advertising The temporary exemption for Formula One would help it break its dependency on tobacco sponsorship, she said.

The Shadow culture, media and sports secretary Francis Maude said the Government had "completely failed to offer a convincing explanation" as to why Formula One should be exempt from a ban on tobacco advertising.

"Many other sports rely heavily on sponsorship from tobacco companies to enable them to stage competitions and generate interest in their sports," he said. "They have been badly let down by the Government. They should either exempt other sports from the ban, or insist that Formula One plays the same rules as everyone else."

Jobs up in smoke

International race track operators are keeping up the pressure on the politicians ahead of Thursday's meeting. Their organisation the Association Internationale des Circuits Permanent said: "tens of thousands of jobs" could be lost and European motor racing circuits would be in jeopardy if cigarette advertising was banned.

The organisation appealed for the ministers to "reconsider" the move, which has been successfully stalled since it was first mooted eight years ago. "Sponsorship by the tobacco industry cannot be replaced by sponsorship from other companies, and it will not be," the AICP Chairman Hans Ernst said.






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