Tobacco Advertising and Sports

Why did Cigarette companies move into sport in the first place?

Tobacco advertising was banned on television by the European Television without Frontiers Directive and the implementation of the Television Act 1964 caused all cigarette advertising to be banned from television in the UK in 1965.

Sport and advertising in relation to sport therefore provided the best opportunity for cigarette companies to get their products consistently seen by millions of people worldwide.  

If I want to take my children to sports such as Motor Racing will they be exposed to advertising promoting cigarettes and tobacco?

Cigarette brands have often been associated with various sports such as motor racing, snooker and rugby. All of which attract millions of viewers both on television and at the actual events. Often these events helped conveyed the image to children that smoking was in some way cool and an accepted practice. Motor racing has been the most firmly criticised by anti-smoking lobbyists as often children as young as six years old associated such brands as Marlboro with excitement and fast cars.

How much money was the UK Tobacco industry spending on advertising in Sports?

In the UK the tobacco industry was spending an estimated £8 million a year on the sponsorship of sport which excluded Formula One. The tobacco industry was spending an estimated £70 million on the sponsorship of Formula One.

The sponsorship of sport and sporting events was clearly huge business for the tobacco industry and also for those sports which were attracting the sponsorship.

So what is the position in relation to the sponsorship of sports events by tobacco companies now?

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002

Following the introduction of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act in 2003 most forms of tobacco advertising and promotion are now banned in the UK.

What does the Act say?

The act makes for the following provisions:

  • The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act banned tobacco advertising in the print media and on billboards as of the 14 February 2003
  • The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act banned tobacco advertising by direct mail and other kinds of promotions as of the 14 May 2003
  • The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act banned tobacco advertising around sport (other than global events) on the 31 July 2003.

Was this the case for all sports?

In the case of Formula One Motor Racing the sport was allowed to continue to be associated with tobacco advertising until July 2005.

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For more information on:

  • Further Regulations
  • Does the Law in relation to tobacco sponsorship of sport apply throughout Europe or just in the UK?
  • Are there still any sporting events which are sponsored by the tobacco industry?
  • What is the Association of Tennis Professionals?
  • How was this possible?
  • Was this event shown on television?