Jean Todt backs WHO's stance over tobacco advertising in F1

FIA President Jean Todt has backed a statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), urging governments to enforce restrictions on tobacco advertising in motorsport.

The advertisement of tobacco products has been banned in Formula 1 for over a decade but developments in recent months have resulted in suggestions of more subtle promotions.

Long-term Ferrari sponsor Philip Morris International last year unveiled its Mission Winnow project, with the logos of the new initiative featuring prominently on Ferrari’s SF90 during testing.

Race-winning MotoGP team Ducati also carries the Mission Winnow branding.

McLaren, meanwhile, has formed a new partnership with British American Tobacco, and the company’s A Better Tomorrow slogan featured on the MCL34 pre-season.

Australian authorities announced their intention to investigate the legality of Ferrari’s Mission Winnow branding and the team instead opted to replace the logos this weekend, running decals to celebrate its 90th anniversary.

McLaren is not running its A Better Tomorrow branding, with BAT sub-letting the space on the MCL34 to supermarket chain 7-ELEVEN.

The WHO issued a statement this week in which it “urged 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.

“WHO also urges all sporting bodies, including Formula 1 and MotoGP, to adopt strong tobacco free policies that ensure their events are smoke-free and their activities and participants, including race teams, are not sponsored by tobacco companies.”

It said its statement was promoted by the recent developments involving Ferrari and McLaren.

In the case of Ferrari the WHO believes PMI has “created a new logo that previously carried branding for the cigarette brand Marlboro”.

Meanwhile the WHO emphasised that the McLaren-BAT deal “indicated that the multi-year partnership will provide a global platform to drive greater resonance of certain products, including glo, a heated tobacco product. This statement suggests that the company’s intent is to promote tobacco use.”

WHO’s statement concluded by urging authorities to “implement their domestic laws banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in the strongest possible ways.

“This may include issuing penalties applicable under domestic laws and taking preventative action, such as by preventing screening of events that violate domestic laws.”

Speaking during a press conference at the Australian Grand Prix, both Todt and Formula 1 boss Chase Carey supported the WHO’s stance.

“It’s now since many years that tobacco advertising is forbidden,” said Todt.

“So we completely support WHO’s position. There’s little more we can say, but we are aligned, very closely with WHO, and we are all aligned with that position.”

Carey added: “We have rules, to work with the teams and sponsors, to respect the rules that exist.”

Both the Mission Winnow and A Better Tomorrow brands are expected to return for the second Grand Prix in Bahrain.