Start, Estoril,. 1995

How tobacco brands are returning to F1 by the back door


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Tobacco advertising in Formula 1 was almost entirely eradicated in the mid-noughties, as legislative pressure forced cigarette brands off teams’ liveries.

But last year Ferrari revealed its new Mission Winnow brand in conjunction with long-time backer Philip Morris International. And McLaren is set to present a similar initiative with British American Tobacco when it launches its MCL34 tomorrow. It’s a development which demonstrates it’s not just the cars’ designers who are paying close attention to the letter of the law.

Here’s a left-field fact: tobacco sponsorship beat wings to the Formula 1 grid, with the first recorded instance of the former appearing during the 1968 South African Grand Prix – contrary to popular lore, not on a Lotus but on John Love’s privateer Brabham sponsored by the local Gunston brand – held on 1st January, whereas F1’s first rudimentary aero devices appeared during that year’s Monaco Grand Prix staged at end-May.

Once hooked on nicotine, F1 embarked on a series of spending bonanzas funded by a wide spectrum of tobacco brands – ranging from 555 through almost every letter of the alphabet – all willing to shell out ever-spiralling sums to punt their brands via F1’s burgeoning live and TV audiences. Budgets exploded, and a case could be made that nicotine, and not petrol, fuelled the sport.

Marlboro facilitated the take-over of a limping McLaren by Ron Dennis’s Project 4 outfit and paid Ferrari’s drivers’ wages before switching full-time to the Scuderia as the extent of Jean Todt’s ambitions became clear. Undaunted, McLaren snared West, and the former day-glo cars turned into Silver Arrows.

Williams put its Camel stipend to winning use by building the FW14B, arguably the most technically advanced F1 car ever. Mild Seven funded Michael Schumacher to his two Benetton world titles. The last F1 world champion to be visibly tobacco-linked was Fernando Alonso in 2006.

However, the ultimate expression of F1 as a tobacco marketing platform was realised at end-1998, when British American Tobacco announced – in anticipation of global bans on tobacco sponsorship – that it would fund a turn-key operation in Brackley, to be known as British American Racing (BAR), with one car entered under 555 colours, the other in Lucky Strike livery.

Emerson Fittipaldi, Lotus, Osterreichring, 1972
Tobacco sponsorship took off in the seventies
F1’s arcane regulations forced the team to eventually run identical left/right branding separated by a zipper, but, whatever, the team failed to bag a single point during its debut year…but once the baccy ban bit the team was sold as per plan: first to Honda, then Brawn, followed by Mercedes-Benz.

However, before that stage was reached motorsport generally and F1 in particular benefited massively by snubbing its carbon fibre-tipped nose at the world’s politically-correct brigades to become virtually the only sporting genre willing to accept tobacco money.

Indeed, the FIA, a that stage presided over by Max Mosley, took up metaphorical arms against the European Union on behalf of motor sport, and by extension F1 and its teams, as the governing body pushed for a stay on pending EU tobacco bans.

With the benefit of hindsight in a (relatively) smoke-free world an excerpt from a letter Mosley at the time addressed to David Byrne, the EU’s then-Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection in a salvo that originally started after the cancellation of the Belgian Grand Prix over a ban on the event’s title sponsorship by Marlboro, is particularly illuminating.

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“The FIA would rather devote its scarce resources to promoting road safety and maintaining our legitimate role as sporting regulator [than fighting team sponsors over earlier anti-tobacco legislation tabled by Byrne],” it reads.

Indeed, so nicotine dependent did F1 become that some teams and/or promoters knowingly transgressed prevailing laws in certain territories in the knowledge that the paltry fines levied – and usually paid in advance, ’twas said at the time – were mere pittances in comparison with the contributions of their benefactors.

Start, Bahrain, 2007
Only Ferrari still carried tobacco logos by 2007
Others invented increasingly creative activities to push their brands: Witness BAR’s 400 km/h (well 397) land speed record runs. F1 car launches became lavish spectacles aimed at global TV audiences rather than at hacks and snappers earning a crust for the odd magazine – websites such as this were few and far between back then – scribbling a few words or publishing a pic or two of a team’s latest creation.

Although Byrne accelerated the EU’s effective ban date by 18 months to July 2005, various challenges to its jurisdiction sowed confusion, forcing the FIA to stick to its own end-2006 deadline. Thus for 18 months F1 operated in legal limbo, but thereafter F1 fell in line EU legislation – vague as it was in parts – which made it an offence to broadcast pictures of logos or trademarks regardless of where these are generated.

Thus the loophole of racing with “dark liveries” in, say, Asia in order to broadcast logos to audiences in countries with more stringent regulations plugged via threats of hefty legal action against team executives, tobacco barons and broadcasters.

Teams mainly toed the legal line, although until mid-2008 Ferrari pushed legislation to the limit, running, for example, Marlboro logos in certain countries outside Europe, yet that moving footage was broadcast into the EU. However, thereafter a number of white bar codes bearing uncanny likenesses to the brand’s pyramid trademarks appeared until 2010, when flying “Scuderia Ferrari” logos erased all traces of Marlboro.

However, Marlboro’s owner Philip Morris International, still funded the team – as it does to this day – to the tune of $100m/annum, in return gaining access to Ferrari for promotions and hospitality aimed at the tobacco trade and garage forecourt shops. Has the partnership delivered value for money? Well, hard-nosed board members are unlikely to shell out an amount that has since totalled a billion bucks without good reasons.


At the time I asked a Shell executive about partnering a team linked to tobacco. He quipped that their forecourts probably earned more money from cigarettes than petrol. Oh, and in a flash of reverse psychology, in certain countries where laws permitted printing on fag packs, Marlboro sneakily took to depicting likenesses of Ferrari F1 cars. After all, pictures of plain red racing cars were not regulated…

Ferrari Mission Winnow livery revealing, Suzuka, 2018
Ferrari’s drivers unveiled Mission Winnow at Suzuka last year
That was the status quo until last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, when and where PMI announced its Mission Winnow initiative, a corporate exercise aimed at “ensuring that one day all smokers quit cigarettes and switch to better alternatives”. Cynics, of course created two distinct words out of Win-Now, with Ferrari and Kimi Räikkönen obliging a race later in the USA. Still the cars were entered all year by Scuderia Ferrari.

That changed last week with the publication of the FIA’s revised entry list, which reflects Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow as team name. Almost immediately the Department of Health in the State of Victoria, host state to the Australian Grand Prix, began investigations into whether Mission Winnow is used to promote a tobacco product.

PMI says not. It has now been joined in similar denials by newly announced McLaren primary sponsor BAT, who on Monday announced it will have an “on-car and off-car presence throughout the season, at all times in line with applicable regulation and legislation”. RaceFans understands the car will highlight BAT’s “new-to-world and thought-leading “A Better Tomorrow” platform”.

Both companies do produce smoke-free – in some instances, electronic – products, but, saliently, these are not to be marketed on F1 cars; simply the concept of switching to healthier consumption, and thus lifestyles. The key word is, of course, “healthier” and not “healthy”, but, either way, how can offering a healthier way of life to what has legally gone before for millions be in any way illegal?

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Of course, some will argue that marketing of any form of nicotine substance is immoral. The counter-argument claims that non-smokers are unlikely to start puffing e-cigarettes – whether marketed via corporate slogans on race cars or not – and nicotine consumption is not glamorised as it was back in the days of full-on cigarette advertising.

A Better Tomorrow - British American Tobacco slogan
British American Tobacco’s logo will appear on the new McLaren
The next question is: how long before PMI or BAT (or the other tobacco conglomerates that will surely follow this duo into F1) start pushing smoke-free products? The likely answer is never, certainly not while current EU bans such products, for the FIA’s 2006 anti-tobacco resolution was to follow to the letter the EU’s laws, plus adhere to World Health Organisation guidelines.

The legislation, promulgated in 2003 with effect 31 July 2005, recognises that there are “varying Member State laws, regulations and administrative provisions”, but that the full regulations pertaining to tobacco control falls within the scope of directives where cross-border effects exist – such as broadcast/media activities. Saliently the following definitions apply:

a) “tobacco products” means all products intended to be smoked, sniffed, sucked or chewed in as much as they are made, even partly, of tobacco;
b) “advertising” means any form of commercial communications with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting a tobacco product;
c) “sponsorship” means any form of public or private contribution to any event, activity or individual with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting a tobacco product.

Although the legislation applies to all forms of tobacco products – including, by definition, vaping, e-cigarettes or other related products – not a word is mentioned about the outlawing of mission statements of tobacco companies or their corporate jargon. Ensuring compliance with this kind of legislation is exactly what PMI and BAT hires lawyers for. It seems they have found the legal loophole they sought.

[retrompujps01]While Brexit may mean that EU laws no longer prevail within the United Kingdom once the transition period is up, the government is unlikely to turn its attention to any softening of anti-tobacco legislation any time soon, so it’s a fair bet to say the same provisions will apply to the cross-border nature of F1, particularly for the British teams that constitute 70 per cent of the grid.

Australia does not, though, fall under EU jurisdiction, and may well have a different take on the matter. The question of Mission Winnow was put to Phil Branagan, a Melbournian motorsport editor with knowledge of the local situation. His response:

“I do not really understand. [Mission Winnow] is not a brand; you can’t walk into a shop [here] and buy anything by that name, so why would it be banned in Australia?

“It will be interesting to see what happens from here. Not sure what they can do with the existing legislation; does it potentially blank out a brand no one has ever heard of, and [one] which has a somewhat tenuous link to tobacco?”

Another question that arises is: How do teams feel about an issue that will surely generate controversy, regardless of its legalities? Given that most teams at some stage availed themselves of controversial products – whether alcohol or the energy drinks that were at one stage banned in France – they hardly have a case, although, to paraphrase an old saying: “Any controversy is better for F1 than none at all…”

Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2018
Heineken’s sponsorship incorporate an anti-drink driving element
However, the topic of alcohol provides a perfect comparison: Heineken, and the beer brand’s social awareness slogan on all its F1 advertising and sponsorship: “If you drink, never drive”, accompanied by a red ‘No beer bottle’ device.

Alcohol is not (yet?) subject to the same stringent laws as are tobacco products, so the marketing of such products is legal in most countries. Where forbidden, it is mainly for religious rather than health reasons. Johnnie Walker trackside and on-car sponsorship deals or Williams’s now defunct Martini livery are all legal within F1’s European host countries, apart from France.

That said, in terms of the applicable EU directive there are restrictions, relevant clauses of which state:

a) it may not be aimed specifically at minors or, in particular, depict minors consuming these beverages;
b) it shall not link the consumption of alcohol to enhanced physical performance or to driving

Hence Heineken’s slogan, which niftily markets an alcohol product while complying fully with EU law.

Although any number of moral arguments can be forwarded against the latest initiatives from PMI and BAT the fact is that, when squeezed, brands reinvent themselves in order to survive. Look no further than the social media campaigns pushed out by the same brands as they (legally) circumvent any restrictions. To tobacco brands, F1 is just another platform – albeit one passionately followed by hundreds of millions of fans.

And, who knows, what with pending changes to F1’s future aerodynamic regulations, such corporate sloganeering by tobacco houses may well outlive F1’s wings…


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66 comments on “How tobacco brands are returning to F1 by the back door”

  1. Wouldn’t the FW14B have been built with Camel money? And can anyone explain “Camel Racing Service” seen on some F1 cars in the early 90’s, and Peugeot Paris-Dakar cars as well? Was there an actual entity that allowed that name to appear? Sounds a bit like the smoke-screen, so to speak, to what Marlboro is doing now.

    1. Hi John you are indeed right about Camel, I’ve amended that.

    2. It was, hence the reference to lookalike logos and other devices. Camel Racing Service was a way around some laws, just as some tobacco companies created fashion brands to pretend their logos were advertising clothing…

      1. @dieterrencken, Not to mention those distinctive gold pocket-lighters sold from a mahogany panelled shop in Pall Mall with Rolls Royces parked outside and Tchaikovsky’s 5th stirring the sole.

  2. This is certainly a back door.
    But in a few years, cannabis will be legal in most market.
    Will cannabis products be allowed to sponsor F1 teams?
    It isn’t particularly worse than alcohol or tobacco.

    1. Tobacco is addictive and unhealthy. Alcohol can cause problems if used irresponsibly. Cannabis has many uses beyond ‘recreational’. Some major US companies have already filed patents for cannabis products. If major companies are marketing products, possibly medicinal, what would be the problem of it being advertised in F1?

      1. A hundred years ago, alcohol and related products (Laudanum as eg.) were heavily promoted for their “Health Benefits”. Not that I will be around to see it, but expect that “medicinal” cannabis will go the same route.
        But, in the mean-time ….. let the games begin.

        1. @rekibsn, Not to mention that Coca plant and Cola nut elixir, taken to brighten up your day.

        2. Very much, @rekibsn. In organic chemistry we learn how pretty much every burnt organic component, from pine wood to a well done steak, is going to… well, inevitably produce compounds that are not very favourable to your health. Specially those pesky aromatic hydrocarbons.

      2. In the United States we have some very strange laws. Many states have or will legalize the sale and use of marijuana, but under federal law such use and sale are still illegal. So far the federal government has not prosecuted legal growers or sellers in the various states, although they certainly could. Further, since such production and sale is illegal federally, federally chartered banks have refused to serve such businesses as they feel that could be viewed by federal law enforcement as abetting a crime. This has made the legal marijuana business a cash only business; sales are made only in cash and employees and suppliers are paid in cash. ATM machines are typically provided to facilitate sales. Needless to say, this cash based business has a lot of potential for dicey dealing. In Washington state, where I live, marijuana is a legal product; there are advertisements on radio for the retail outlets. Washington state controls the production and sales very carefully, requiring rigorous tracking of all product.

        Right now in the US of A it would be very difficult for a business entity that has a presence in more than one state to market marijuana, as transportation across state borders is illegal. It is common for police in states where sale is illegal, but legal across the border, to wait and stop travelers who have purchased marijuana; the Washington-Idaho border is a good example and is notorious for this intimidation of purchasers of legal product crossing into illegal territory. Until these sorts of impediments to national sales are removed, which would require Congress to pass laws making possession legal, I think there is very little chance of any sponsorship of this type, at least in the US. The chances of repeal of national anti-marijuana laws are slim to none. Marijuana is currently classified as a schedule 1 drug by the US. A schedule 1 drug is (quoting from the Drug Enforcement Administration website):

        “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

        heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote”

        So in the US marijuana is, legally, just as dangerous as heroin… No marijuana grower sponsored F1 teams are anticipated in the near future.

        1. Times are changing.
          In the US , Arkansas residents with a medical card can soon go across the border to Oklahoma and Legally obtain medial marijuana and then return to Arkansas.

      3. Medicine and drug advertising is pretty much an american thing. In fact there are only two countries in the whole world who allow pharmaceutical advertising. Usa and new zealand. So from that pov medical cannabis is off limits unless they do their own “betterwin” marketing scheme.

        1. In fact there are only two countries … Usa and new zealand

          Not true. Pharma advertising in the UK is widespread, albeit tightly regulated:

    2. Here in the US, the iGnite brand of CBD/THC products are sponsoring a Supercross racer, but the sanctioning body is making him black out the logos. That almost gave him MORE exposure. Will be curious if some of these companies make it into F1 and what they will do with it.

  3. It is sad that these backdoors are needed. We let thousands of foot companies advertise their unhealthy chemical-laden slop through all channels that there are, yet tobacco money is evil money? What a load. If we look at modern society, fat disgusting people are much more common than smokers.

    Then again, these may just be the cynical perspective of someone who longs back for a time where tobacco companies put enough money in the sport that 15+ teams could somewhat afford to compete in it. Odds are if tobacco advertisement were to made legal again, they’d invest in something stupid like giving soccer teams even more money for an ungodly dull product…

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      13th February 2019, 21:38

      @klon They aren’t the same though. One is dangerous to the individual if it’s over-consumed. The other is dangerous to both the individual and others standing near them if it’s consumed at all.

    2. @klon, just imagine what El Chapo could have done were he able to advertise and sponsor sports.

  4. The counter-argument claims that non-smokers are unlikely to start puffing e-cigarettes

    Regardless of one’s feelings about tobacco and racing, the data available are trending hard against this argument. The US CDC reported just this week that the number of young users of tobacco/nicotine rose 38% in 2018, entirely due to e-cigarettes (there was no increase in any other category of tobacco product).

    And of course, that wave of new young users is due in large part to popularity of the products of Juul, in which PMI’s sister company Altria has a 35% stake.

    1. Altria is PM USA’s parent company. Philip Morris International (PMI) is a separate entity that operates independently of Altria and PM USA.

      1. @Kenny Yes, I probably shouldn’t have said they are strictly “sister companies”. I was referring to their shared lineage and the fact that they have business together in e-cigarettes, as Altria will sell PMI’s iQOS line in the US if the FDA approves it, allowing PMI to challenge Juul there.

      2. That makes it worse. A sister company might be able to claim that the fraternal decision-making is separate, provided it’s canny enough to ensure no reasonable confusion could exist between its own marketing and the sibling company’s. That’s not possible with a direct parent/subsidary relationship (not in the UK, EU and as far as I know not in Australia either), and probably why the Australian lawyers think they are going to win this case.

    2. Indeed, good that you pointed that one out here @markzastrow. It confirms what I see at my 15’yo’s school – vaping can be more easily gotten for under age kids, and is more easily hidden away from parents. Also, you can take a pull just about anytime, not having to light anything. And off course there are flavours.

      1. @bascb The UK bans child purchase or consumption for e-cigs of all kinds on the same basis that it does regular cigarettes. However, e-cigs are the only type of nicotine product able to get entire shops devoted to their consumption (even nicotine-bearing “quit smoking” products have to be sold at a pharmacist as part of a more balanced product line). With teenagers spending more time roaming the streets because there are fewer places they can afford to be together at (and an increasing recognition from parents that they can’t be fully protected from all bad social influences by keeping them at home by their computers), that sort of shopfront advertising is very effective.

        This is also why I don’t expect anyone to openly advertise an e-cig on F1 – that’s not how they reach their prime audience. F1 is mostly about converting the older set (and perhaps it’s more about changing social mores to give e-cigs a less sleazy image – and maybe get a few more sales from younger people for various products on the side – than directly getting the older people’s monies).

        1. Interesting. Where I live you can buy cigarettes in supermarkets (although they now have to be in a locked case and can’t be visible etc), and there are a huge amount of ways to get e-cigarettes, including online, in kiosks etc.

          Quite a few people use them, especially during work – when smoking is limited to breaks every few hours, vaping can often be done at the workplace.

  5. Tobacco is returning by the back door? Someone tell those millenials and generation X that’s not how you smoke.

    1. @johnmilk – oh, man! :)

      Gwyneth Paltrow might want to have a word with you.

      (Disclaimer: medical professionals are against pretty much anything her company recommends, so don’t take anything on that site as medical advice or recommendation)

      1. @phylyp I saw a hose and I read “colon cleanse” I had to stop

        What the hell?

        1. @johnmilk – it’s for when you like coffee so much… ;-)

          1. @phylyp I can only imagine this is the result of radiation by being too close to IronMan

  6. Which tobacco company sponsored this article? :)

  7. Well, the cinic in me that grew watching 26 car grid races financed by nicotine companies can see that for the teams that are desperately needing more funding to survive, this loophole can be better to them than trying to get the budget cap working. This can actually put F1 in a healthier shape financially…26 grid cars is maybe possible again!

    1. Maybe there are other industries which can fund a full grid? @mmertens

      I understand that the global illegale drug trade sits anywhere between 25-50 trillion.
      And the arms industry might be a solid alternative.
      BTW both bigger than tobacco.

      1. I think oil and coal are pretty big. Better tomorrow might not be the best slogan for them but money is money. Pharmaceutical companies could fund f1. Call your doctor now! Pharmaceutical ads are only allowed in usa and new zealand though. Political ads could be great. Get people talking. The saudis have tons of money. We could even build a race tra… wait a second.

    2. @mmertens, on the other hand, there might be those arguing that those same tobacco companies were in part also responsible for the unsustainable growth in budgets that helped create many of the financial problems that the sport is trying to deal with now.

      1. Indeed very good points anon and Coldfly! Yes, they are partly responsible for this mess we are seeing today, fully agree! It was maybe the nostalgic and selfish part of me speaking louder this time. I remember when a underdog like Zakspeed or Osella qualified in 17th for the race in a 30 + grid. Iit was quite an achievement! I miss these underdogs punching above their weight!

  8. Imagine being such a control freak that you vilify someone for having a habit you don’t like. Just imagine what kind of a complete prat you would need to be to want such deep control of other people.

    1. @joshgeake well, this is a very philosophic discussion. Strong arguments can be made from both sides. But I’ll play along.

      Smoking isn’t just “something you don’t like”. It’s a health issue. We all pay for everyone’s health service, so why should we fund treatment of something we know it’s harmful? wouldn’t it be better to throw resources into limiting the use of such product, using the money more wisely to help the people that suffer addiction and serious consequences to their health? smoking is the root of the problem. If banning advertisement is a way to limit consumption of cigarettes, personally, I’m all for it. They are not banning smoking, you can still do it if you want, they are trying to take that kind of lifestyle out of people’s mind.

      It’s about changing the way people think about smoking too. Even in movies, the “cool guy” smokes (or smoked).

      1. I completely agree with most of what you say @fer-no65. The thing that winds me up most is the open vilification – it’s now become okay to mock someone that smokes and treat them differently just because you don’t like it.

        Smoking does affect those within the immediate vicinity of the smoke, sure, but try telling someone whose father is an alcoholic or chronic gambler that it’s more damaging.

    2. @joshgeake, Don’t get me started, as a lifetime non-smoker I’ve had to put up with the foul smell of tobacco smoke wherever I went in public, clothes that smelt like a dirty ashtray and every woman I kissed tasted like a dirty ashtray, not to mention the health risks and stinging eyes.

    3. I was a smoker for 15 year – smoking isn’t a habit, it’s a life-destroying drug addiction which wrecks your health and destroys your self-esteem. Cracking your knuckles is a habit – yet point out to a knuckle-cracker that they’re doing it, and they’ll stop quite happily. Smokers smoke because they are addicted to nicotine, and when the withdrawal pangs are strong, would smoke just about anything to get relief. I’ve been there at 3am, ripping apart stinking old cigarette butts from the ashtray so I can make a rollup from the scraps of reeking baccy because I’m desperate to smoke and there are no shops open. I’ve stood outside in wind, rain, snow, leaving the warmth and comfort of my home and the company of my friends and family to stand shivering, alone, in the cold, just to suck down on some poisonous smoke. I’ve been sat in restaurants, trying to enjoy a meal with friends, when my mind is screaming at me constantly to get up and go outside to smoke.

      Smoking isn’t a habit. It’s a drug addiction. Tobacco companies know this – their entire business model relies upon it. And the most important part of their business model is getting new, generally very young, people addicted to the drug to replace the older smokers who die painful premature deaths. When tobacco companies were painting racing cars up like fag packets, it was about promoting smoking as part of an exciting, glamourous lifestyle. Promoting it to impressionable kids who would put up posters of F1 cars – glossy A1 sized adverts for cigarettes – on their bedroom walls and then stare at them.

      Tobacco advertising in F1 is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to get children addicted to a drug which will severely harm them before ultimately killing them. Just so a giant multinational can make millions in profits. As an industry, it’s hard to think of a better description than simply – evil. F1 is well rid of tobacco sponsorship and all the harm and deaths that have resulted from it. If I could, I’d do away with F1 and motorsports entirely if it meant ridding the world of tobacco.

      1. Well said @mazdachris

        I can relate to your sentiments, especially; “I’ve been there at 3am, ripping apart stinking old cigarette butts from the ashtray so I can make a rollup from the scraps of reeking baccy because I’m desperate to smoke and there are no shops open”.

        Although I’m not sure I’d have admitted it if you hadn’t gone first.

  9. Erm – wouldn’t e-cigarettes be exempt because they contain no tobacco what so ever?

    They are legal to advertise in the UK for example (although a TV ban has taken place) but cannot be advertised as a way to quit smoking (for some unknown reason).

    Vaping is the same as nicorette essentially.

    1. Vaping and Nicorette are not the same. Vaping has 2x chance of inducing cessation of smoking but also 10x higher chance that ppl will continue to vape rather than stop altogether as compared to nicotine gum.

      1. “Vaping and Nicorette are not the same”

        Right, the vape pen can explode in ones face… RIP William Brown.

        1. Nothing to do with the actual substance of vaping, its down to cheap/damaged devices.

          If you brought a car and its wheel fell off causing your death, you wouldn’t blame the entire idea of driving.

  10. That new BAT logo’s a killer.
    It’s like a black Cancer pacman chewing on A Better Tomorrow ™

  11. Given the trends in advertising these days, and the fact that the F1 “viewership” is shrinking and likely to continue that trend, I doubt that big tobacco companies will be throwing around the sort of money that they used to.

    I’m somewhat surprised that BAT have even re-entered, loophole or not and suspect that it’s contribution may be fairly short lived.

    The sad fact is that all teams (other than one which advertises it’s own product) are struggling to entice major sponsors because they are finding that they can get far better bang for their buck in other ventures. If tobacco companies want to burn money, with the limitations already imposed, I’m not overly concerned. Certainly no more so that alcohol companies spending large amounts in F1.

    If it helps with F1’s health in the short term until budget caps are crystallised and revenue streams from FOM are flattened out, then I’m all for it.

    1. That’s the real problem – the lack of people willing to throw cash into F1.

      Compare it to the internet where you can throw cash at a very well targeted campaign and derive a very accutate ROI.

  12. ignoring the moral arguments, part of what i love about racing is watching teams work within the letter of the law while at the same time completely ignoring the spirit of the law. Usually that’s in the form of technical regulations like the double-decker diffuser or the F-duct, but sometimes the business side is just as exciting.

  13. @dieterrencken Very interesting analysis! And I can’t help but think that the Ferrari logo displayed on their cars between 2011 and 207 depicts a close-up of the side of a Marlboro pack of cigarettes. As a smoker it struck me immediately. It never stopped it seems.

    1. 2017 obviously.

  14. As folks with a technical bent … this one will be interesting.
    In the move, “The Mars Underground” (an awesome flic, a must watch) Zubrin talks about the radiation exposure for a maned Mars mission. His point is that they should just recruit smokers because their life expectancy will increase enough to offset the effect of the radiation and potential cancer risk they would be exposed to.
    And …. Maybe some brilliant folks can explain why alcohol free beer costs more than the regular 5% stuff. It isn’t taxed as much, doesn’t sell in government controlled outlets and carries far less litigious baggage. I could put up with some of the taste if it was cheaper, but it isn’t. Must be a Wednesday Thursday Friday sort of thing.

  15. The last F1 world champion to be visibly tobacco-linked was Fernando Alonso in 2006.

    Hummm, I seem to remember Kimi having Marlboro sponsorship in 2007.

  16. Why don’t they just ban completely any tobacco company from doing business with sports teams, because mission winnow is so obviously a loophole to continue selling cigarettes. Kids look up to sports teams, they should not be run with money from such disgusting companies that are responsible for so much death and suffering.

    1. Because ‘any tobacco company from doing business’ is subjective. Miller beers is actually owned by Philip Morris International (i.e. Marlboro) and until recently they had a big share in Kraft (Cadburys, Kool Whip, Capri Sun etc).

  17. This article ignores the crucial element of the Winnow brand, which is that it is being used to ape the old marlboro logo. there cannot be a loophole that allows the actual logo to continue to be used. they may argue that anyone could “accidentally” combine some letters upside down and happen to get the logo of a cigarette brand – but this is Phillip Morris doing it! they are the ones paying for the logo which looks eerily similar to marlboro. it’s hardly through the back door – it’s blatant!

    I expect there to be a bigger crackdown on this and it sounds like in australia the regulator is at least on the ball.

    I would hope the sport takes a better stance on this issue (liberty are appearing more and more powerless as time goes by). I remember being slightly dismayed as an 8-year old in 1995 to discover that most of the teams in my adopted sport were sponsored by tobacco companies (I was 8 and had never heard of rothmans or gitanes etc, but had been brought up to know that smoking was ‘Bad’). the image it sends out now (at a time when smoking has been consigned to hospital car parks and dodgy pubs) is far worse – it’s pure disregard for public health.

    with regard to e-cigarettes/vaping, the best available scientific research tells us that it’s less harmful than smoking tobacco but more harmful than doing neither so I don’t see that as a viable get-out for this kind of sponsorship. these guidelines are quite illuminating re. what you can get away with promoting:

    1. Surely it’s not a coincidence that they sound similar as well.
      Also can’t help but notice that “A Better Tomorrow” has the same initials as British American Tobacco, and still manages to end in the same vowel sound.

      Care to wager how long it takes people to notice the similarity between the McLaren logo and the BAT owned Newport cigarette logo?

  18. I always thought banning of tobacco in F1 is a mistake. Try to look at it form wider scale: whether they sponsoring F1 teams or not, they already have those truckload of money ready to spent in marketing. While you guys celebrating “clean” F1, those money went into (at least in my country) paying sales girl to directly approach people in streets, paying for massive ads in giant billboards and cinemas (including late night TV), and main sponsor for concerts or any events that aimed and attracts thousands of teenagers. Every dollar spent on those, outside of paying the wages of people they hired is arguably making the world worse place.

    Now, if they can sponsor F1 teams, a significant portion of that marketing budget is gone for F1 purposes. Even for PMI, $100mil per year is not a chump change, which I bet Ferrari will ask more if they can actually put Marlboro sign in the car. Even better, those marketing dollars will mainly hit people in their mid 20s-60s where main F1 demographics currently are and those people are much more resistant to start smoking just because it sponsors their favorite team and thus their marketing campaign effectiveness per dollar can be expected to be lower than sponsoring an indie concert for example. Also as an added benefit, those dollars will be used to fund F1 R&D wars which means it actually participating on making the world better. At the very least, it can provide a breathing space for smaller teams or maybe even enable private teams like old times.

    TL;DR: Letting tobacco companies sponsor F1 is an overall better use of their advertising money instead of banning them where it goes purely for marketing purposes.

    1. To be clear, I don’t support people smoking. I never smoke in my life. However, it’s better IMO to focus on the effort to make tobacco companies bankrupt or not profitable anymore (by cutting off consumer interest like what smoking do to your body awareness campaign) instead of just trying to hiding the symptom (marketing money).

  19. That’s it, I am heading to the shops right now and buying a carton of cigarettes.

    I mean I only started buying other things because they were advertised on the side of an F1 car

  20. Vaping isn’t a tobacco product. The nicotine is synthetic, so does not derive from ‘tobacco products’. This is confirmed by a few organisations including the FDA.

    This might be the loophole they are thinking about.

  21. Controversy. Media attention. Government investigations.

    Job done. Way too easy!

  22. Black and gold and mysterious money.

  23. Winnow by definition
    –to separate
    chaff from wheat
    with a puff
    of air–
    or by blowing smoke?

    Winnow also
    means to
    remove people
    from a list.
    Rather haunting
    isn’t it?

    – – –
    The PMI so called project is a thinly veiled smoke screen that anyone can see through, unless they choose to look the other way. They have not been spending millions for nothing.

  24. How wonderfully ironic that this article is actually sponsored by a retro GP branding website selling JPS branded baseball caps and other cigarette brand apparel

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