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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 17:25 GMT
Davis attacks tobacco ban

Steve Davis is still ranked 12th in the provisional world rankings
Davis says the ban is hypocritical

2003 Benson and Hedges Masters
2-9 February
BBC TV, Radio and BBC Sport's website

Snooker legend Steve Davis has told the BBC Sport website he is concerned for the future of the game once a government ban on tobacco sponsors in sport kicks in.

Davis is concerned that tournaments such as next week's Benson & Hedges Masters could struggle to attract new financial backers.

The tournament, which starts at Wembley on 2 February, will have to find a new sponsor for next year.

"It is the end of an era," Davis said.

"I just hope that snooker is able to replace these sponsors."

As long as you're not romanticising smoking, then you're just advertising your brand

Steve Davis

The six-time world champion is also angry at the "hypocrisy" of the legislation.

"It's the changing face of our world that we feel the need to protect ourselves against the tobacco industry.

"The same people who are trying to protect us are also making huge amounts in tax revenues from smoking.

"I think there's a level of hypocrisy about the whole thing.

"If a legal product's not allowed to advertise, then why is it legal? People can make their own decision on whether to smoke or not."

Davis rejected arguments that tobacco sponsorship aims to persuade people to start smoking.

"As long as you're not romanticising smoking - and that stopped years ago - then you're just advertising your brand.

"The figures show that there's a larger uptake of smoking in teenage girls than any other age group.

"And as we all know, teenage girls flock in their droves to watch snooker - we can't move for them! It's just a load of rubbish.

"I've spent years sitting around at the B&H Masters, the Regal Welsh, the Embassy Worlds - and I'm not a smoker."

Snooker currently has two big events which do not rely on tobacco backing - the LG Cup and the PowerHouse UK Championship.


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