The FIA is a non-profit federation of motoring organisations and motor sport associations. It is the world-governing body of motor sport responsible for regulating the major international motor sport championships. The FIA does not receive sponsorship from the tobacco industry.
The FIA recognises the widespread concern about the health risks associated with smoking and has followed closely the issue of the promotion of tobacco products through sports sponsorship. The following statement outlines the FIA’s policy towards tobacco sponsorship in international motor sport, and its views on a world-wide ban to be implemented by the end of 2006.
Sponsorship by the tobacco industry in motor sport began in 1968 and today remains an important source of revenue for a number of teams competing in the Formula One and World Rally Championships. The precise value of such sponsorship is hard to estimate but probably exceeds $350 million per annum. There is, however, also a significant trend of diversification into alternative sources of sponsorship.
The FIA fully respects the responsibility of governments to establish their own rules and regula-tions concerning tobacco promotion. Our interest is limited to encouraging the creation of a regime for the control of tobacco sponsorship that is stable, predictable, and generally enforce-able internationally.
An effective ban requires world-wide agreement
The FIA believes that only a world-wide agreement to control tobacco sponsorship of sport will be effective.
International motor sport championships such as the FIA’s Formula One World Championship and World Rally Championship consist of a series of events held in countries all around the world. By far the largest audience for these events are television viewers rather than the spectators attending the race or rally.
The live global television audience of a Formula One race exceeds 300 million per event, to which must be added huge numbers who see news items and feature broadcasts.
In any individual country, therefore, television viewers during the year are watching events from all around the world. These events are subject to very different rules regarding tobacco adver-tising and sponsorship. Only two countries that host FIA world championship events currently prevent tobacco sponsorship.
France has introduced a legal ban, whereas the United Kingdom has relied on voluntary agreements negotiated with the tobacco industry. As a result of this, tobacco sponsorship logos have not appeared on racing cars or drivers’ overalls at the British Grand Prix for over twenty years.
The controls on tobacco advertising in France and the UK, however, only succeed in limiting the exposure to tobacco brands at two events each year. During the rest of the year the same French and British television audiences watch other races which are not subject to a sponsorship ban.
The problem remains, therefore, that legislation by a single country will not result in an effective ban on tobacco sponsorship in any sport that takes place in many different countries and is also televised world-wide. That is why to be truly effective, a ban on tobacco sponsorship must be agreed at a world level.
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
At the 1999 World Health Assembly of the World Health Organisation a unanimous decision of 191 governments was taken to commence negotiations on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This demonstrated clearly that there is widespread political agreement that tobacco advertising and sponsorship should be subject to international control.
On entry into force the FCTC will for the first time provide an internationally applicable legal instru-ment promoting a ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship. Although not all governments may agree to ratify the FCTC, it is likely to be very widely adopted and become the legal norm as regards control of tobacco products.
The FIA welcomes these negotiations and supports the establishment of a predictable regime for tobacco control that would be applicable world-wide.
For this reason the FIA adopted the following resolution in October 2000: ‘On entry into force of the World Health Organisation’s proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the FIA will introduce a world-wide ban on tobacco advertising and sponsorship in international motor sport from the end of the 2006 season as originally envisaged by the Directive (98/43/EC) of the European Union Member States’. (4/10/2000 Resolution of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council).
This resolution demonstrates the commitment of the FIA to working constructively with public authorities on the issue of tobacco sponsorship.
The time-scale of the end of the 2006 season is consistent with the original terms of the 1998 European Union Directive 98/43/EC, which was annulled in the European Court of Justice on 5 th October, 2000 (see below).
The FIA believes that the target date of the end of 2006 provides sufficient lead-time for teams to obtain alterna-tive sources of sponsorship.
Implementing the 2006 target with the WHO and the European Union
The FIA is currently working constructively with the WHO and the negotiating body of the FCTC to adopt the end of 2006 as the target date for a world-wide ban on tobacco sponsorship. For example, the FIA President, Max Mosley, participated in the launch of the WHO’s Tobacco Free Sports initiative held in November 2001 during the negotiations for the FCTC.
The FIA has also briefed delegates at a special meeting hosted by the Australian Government during the March 2002 negotiating session on our policy recommendations.
In particular, the FIA wishes to encourage all countries that host FIA World Championship eventsto make the 2006 date the target for either their own legislation or through the FCTC. The Australian Government, for example, has already amended its Tobacco Prohibition Act 1992 to introduce a complete ban on sports sponsorship to take effect from 1st October, 2006.
This decision followed constructive discussions between the FIAPresident, Max Mosley, and the then Minister of Health in Australia, the Hon Mr Michael Woolridge (see press statement at Annex D) The FIA is also in discussion with the European Commission about their attempts to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship.
In 1998 the EU adopted a Directive that would have banned tobacco sponsorship in international sport by the end of 2006. However, the legal basis of this Directive was challenged by the German government in the European Court of Justice. This challenge succeeded and the Court annulled the Directive.
The European Commission has sub-sequently proposed a revised draft Directive (2002/C36/20) on the advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products.
The FIA is currently having a positive discussion with the European Commissioner for Health, Mr David Byrne, about the date of implementation of their new proposal, (see correspondence at Annex E). The FIA hopes that the EU will keep to the 2006 date as originally included in the 1998 Directive.
Although a subject of no direct interest to the FIA, we also strongly believe that the European Commission should end its system of subsidy for tobacco production in the EU. Each year hundreds of millions of euros are spent by European tax payers in farm support for tobacco. This clearly undermines the credibility of the EU’s anti-smoking policies.
The FIA believes that it would be fair and equitable if the tobacco subsidy system should also cease by the end of 2006. Whilst these international negotiations continue, the FIA has encouraged teams that participate in our championships to diversify away from tobacco sponsorship.
We believe that the end of 2006 is a realistic timetable for an international ban on tobacco sponsorship and we advise all motor sport competitors that receive tobacco sponsorship to ensure that their sponsorship contracts reflect this date in any agreements they make.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The FIA fully acknowledges the concerns of public health authorities about the risks of tobacco smoking. We remain willing to support early agreement for an internationally applicable Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Consistent with this, it is our intention to ban tobacco sponsorship from international motor sport by the end of the 2006 season and, in the meantime, encourage motor sport competitors to diversify away from tobacco sponsorship.
In support of this policy the FIA makes the following recommendations:
That all governments negotiating the text of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control adopt the end of 2006 as the target date for a world-wide ban on tobacco sponsorship in sport.
That the European Union institutions (Commission, Council and Parliament) adopt the end of 2006 as the target date for an EU-wide ban on tobacco sponsor-ship in sport.
That all countries hosting FIA World Championship events adopt domestic legis-lation that is consistent with the international target date of 2006.
For further information please contact:
Director of Communications
T: +33 1 43 125 810