McLaren drop tobacco firm logos for Australian GP

McLaren drop tobacco firm logos for Australian GP

Picture credit: McLaren Racing

Formula One team McLaren have dropped British American Tobacco logos for the season-opening Grand Prix in Melbourne as objections grow about the return of cigarette-firm advertising to the sport.

McLaren's move comes after Ferrari removed all references to Mission Winnow, a research subsidiary of tobacco firm Philip Morris, from their cars and team uniforms for the race over a potential breach of Australian anti-tobacco advertising laws.

On Thursday, the World Health Organisation called for better enforcement of bans on tobacco advertising after tobacco companies quietly re-entered sponsorship deals with Formula One teams.

A McLaren spokesman told AFP Friday, "It was BAT's decision to not use their branding at the race this weekend."

The British team recently announced a partnership with the tobacco giant, which included having their "A Better Tomorrow" branding on cars and drivers' overalls.

BAT said it focused solely on its "potentially reduced risk products", referring to e-cigarettes, rather than having any direct link to cigarette promotion.

"BAT are mindful of the stance that the Australian government currently takes towards potentially reduced risk products," the McLaren spokesman said.

Ferrari have replaced their Mission Winnow branding with a 90th anniversary logo. But a Scuderia Ferrari spokesman told AFP the team expected to restore the branding for the next Grand Prix in Bahrain.

Mission Winnow featured on its livery during last year's Japanese Grand Prix, sparking an investigation by Australia's communications regulator over whether TV broadcasts of the race breached its ban on tobacco advertising.

The state government of Victoria, whose capital is Melbourne, was likewise probing the controversial logos.

On Thursday, the WHO called for "all sporting bodies, including Formula 1 and MotoGP, to adopt strong tobacco-free policies".

"WHO is urging governments to enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship at sporting events, including when hosting or receiving broadcasts of Formula 1 and MotoGP events," the UN health agency said in a statement.

Tobacco firms were highly visible in Formula One until governing body the FIA banned tobacco advertising and sponsorship by cigarette makers at the end of the 2006 season.

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