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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 May, 2004, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Threat to European GPs
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at the Spanish GP

Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari sponsored by Marlboro
Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has reissued his threat to pull the sport out of Europe if a tobacco advertising ban is introduced next year.

The European Union is aiming to start the ban in July 2005, more than a year before a date initially agreed with F1.

"I hope we can get this sorted out so we don't have to keep disappearing out of Europe, which is the last thing we want," said Ecclestone.

He said it was "silly" that motor racing would not be given an exemption.

Ecclestone remarks came as he announced a new deal for the Spanish Grand Prix that will keep it on the calendar until 2011.

But he emphasised that he can terminate the contract of any race if the country in which it is held introduces a tobacco advertising ban.

Ecclestone said he could do little to influence governments in their decisions on tobacco advertising laws.

But he said F1 had offered to put up anti-smoking messages alongside tobacco adverts at circuits.

Ecclestone said: "What we've always said is if tobacco advertising is so powerful and seeing a sign makes people start smoking, we should put up another sign, just as large, that says: 'If you smoke, you'll die.'

"That's just as powerful. Out of the blue, the governments have all got free advertising that does exactly what they want."

Max Mosley, the president of motorsport's governing body the FIA, had pledged to ban tobacco advertising in F1 from October 2006.

But he went back on the idea when the EU brought its ban forward.

Ecclestone was asked by BBC Sport why, with increasing numbers of countries introducing tobacco-advertising bans, F1 simply did not ban it.

Ecclestone said: "Ask the teams. They rely on the tobacco sponsorship."

Five of the 10 teams in F1 are backed by tobacco companies.

BAR boss issues tobacco threat
01 Feb 04  |  Formula One
F1 fights to delay tobacco ban
02 Apr 03  |  Formula One

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