WHO call on banning tobacco sponsorship gets FIA President’s support

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International Automobile Federation (FIA) Jean Todt  has backed a World Health Organisation (WHO) call to ban t0boacco advertisements and sponsorship at all sporting events, including motorsports.

Even as Tobacco advertising has been banned from FIA-organised events since 2006 after the World Motor Sport Council voted on its expulsion in November 2001, the

WHO wants more commitment to ‘reduce the consumption of tobacco products’ after some companies have announced branding campaigns as part of partnerships with Formula One and MotoGP racing teams.

The WHO is urging governments to pass new domestic laws that ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at all sporting occasions their nations either host or broadcast.

WHO’s renewed calls follow Ferrari’s and McLaren’s decisions to drop branding by tobacco sponsors for this weekend’s Formula One season-opener in Melbourne, amid pressure by health authorities in Australia.

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Speaking in a press conference ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, Todt said: “Since many years tobacco advertising is forbidden, so I mean I completely support WHO position. There’s little more we can say on that”.

“But we are aligned very closely with the WHO [and] Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director general of the WHO. We are aligned with their position.”

Though both teams say the campaigns are not geared towards promoting tobacco-based products and have agreed to remove branding for this weekend’s Formula One return, the WHO says it is not convinced, states a Sportspromedia report.

In part, WHO’s statement read: “In making this announcement, BAT indicated that the multi-year partnership will provide a global platform to drive greater resonance of certain products, including glo, a heated tobacco product. This statement suggests that the company’s intent is to promote tobacco use.”

“In the case of Philip Morris International (PMI), the company has created a new logo Mission Winnow to be carried by Ferrari on cars, and Ducati on motorbikes, that previously carried branding for the cigarette brand Marlboro.’

“The actions of the companies result in advertisement and promotion of tobacco products and tobacco use to the world at large, including young people. Tobacco product advertising and promotion occurs both in countries that host events and in countries that receive transmissions of these events.

“WHO urges governments to implement their domestic laws banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in the strongest possible ways. This may include issuing penalties applicable under domestic laws and taking preventative action, such as by preventing screening of events that violate domestic laws.”

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