Select Committee on Health Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Federation Internationale De L'Automobile (TB 36)

  Given that the terms of reference of the Committee's inquiry do not include sports sponsorship it is difficult to anticipate what issues the Committee wish to explore with the FIA. The following points, however, may be of interest.

  The FIA is the world-wide, non-profit federation of motoring organisations, bringing together 157 clubs from 119 countries. It is also the governing body of international motor sport, responsible, in particular, for the regulation of its major world championships, such as the Formula One World Championship, the World Rally Championship, Grand Touring and Formula 3000 Championships. The FIA's President, Max Mosley was first elected in 1993 and is currently serving his second four-year term of office.

  The FIA does not receive any sponsorship from tobacco companies. At no time has the FIA asked any government for an exclusive exemption for Formula One from the European Community Directive on tobacco advertising. The Directive does not include an exclusive exemption for Formula One. Indeed neither Formula One nor motor sport is mentioned in the Directive which, in fact, offers a conditional transitional period to sponsorship "for events or activities at world level" until 1 October 2006. The FIA is not involved in the current legal challenge against the Directive.

  The FIA's attitude toward the Directive was initially set out in a statement on 1 October 1997, which was given to all 15 EU member States (see annex). This statement included the following sentence. "If by independent and scientific study it can be shown that tobacco company logos appearing at Formula One races cause people to start smoking, the case for the total elimination of tobacco sponsorship would be overwhelming".

  Since then the FIA has made numerous attempts to receive such evidence. In a statement issued on 11 December 1998, the FIA World Motor Sport Council invited all interested parties to submit evidence to an independent legal authority for a judgement (see enclosed) [1]The FIA wrote to numerous Governments and the World Health Organisation. The response to date has been disappointing and we are still waiting to receive further evidence.

  Mr Mosley has stated on a number of occasions that it is his personal belief that it would be preferable for Formula One to move away from tobacco sponsorship rather than risk being the last sport that is to some extent dependent on this particular source of sponsorship revenue.

16 January 2000

ANNEX

TOBACCO SPONSORSHIP IN FORMULA ONE

The FIA has been considering very carefully the possible effects of the draft European Union Directive to ban tobacco advertising, including the latest compromise proposed by the Luxembourg Presidency which will be on the agenda of the Health Council on 4 December.

  The new proposal would give a three-year exemption for sports sponsorship by tobacco companies, to be followed by a complete ban. This approach fails to consider fully the special problem of an international championship, such as Formula One, which takes place on a world stage watched by global television audiences.

  An EU-wide ban on tobacco sponsorship would simply provide an incentive to the tobacco industry to support major events outside the EU. In the case of Formula One, over 70 per cent of the world television audience is in the Asia/Pacific region, while 10 of the 16 Formula One Championship races are held within the EU. There is already substantial pressure to increase the number of events in Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region. In these regions, governments are prepared to exempt Formula One from any restriction on tobacco advertising. These regions are, of course, growth markets for the tobacco industry, in contrast to the mature markets of Western Europe.

  The Luxembourg compromise text of the EU draft Directive would therefore accelerate the trend towards non-EU events. But these events would still be televised globally and be seen throughout the EU. There would be no reduction in the level of public exposure to tobacco sponsorship of Formula One. The proposal would simply encourage the tobacco industry to sponsor sporting activity outside the EU but televised within the fifteen Member States. This would penalise sport in Europe and encourage relocation of its infrastructure outside the EU. The FIA believes that the proposed draft Directive is, therefore, flawed and will fail to meet its own objectives.

  The FIA, however, is willing to assist in achieving a reduction in tobacco sponsorship of Formula One. We could do this by means of our own regulations. These apply to all Formula One events throughout the world, something which could not be achieved by an EU Directive alone.

  For example, we could require by regulation that no driver carry on overall or helmet any form of tobacco advertising. This would substantially reduce the broadcast impact of such logos which currently feature on the drivers during the race and in pre/post-race interviews and podium ceremonies.

  Further reductions or additional measures, such as the inclusion of health warnings could also be introduced. However, before proceeding further, the FIA would like to see specific evidence on the impact (particularly on young people) of tobacco sponsorship in Formula One. If by independent and scientific study it can be shown that tobacco company logos appearing at Formula One races cause people to start smoking, the case for the total elimination of tobacco sponsorship would be overwhelming. The FIA would then act on a time scale not dissimilar to that envisaged by the Luxembourg compromise.

  The FIA wishes to discuss these proposals with interested Member States. We believe that this is the only way to achieve an effective world-wide reduction in tobacco sponsorship within Formula One. In contrast, we believe that the draft EU Directive would be self-defeating in terms of public health policy and cause unnecessary harm and economic dislocation to major sporting competition in Europe.

  We would be grateful if our views could be taken into account before the Health Council meeting of 4 December.

1 October 1997





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