The Government is to consider using National Lottery funds to
safeguard sporting events which will lose tobacco sponsorship under the
ban announced by ministers this week.
Although the Government will give organisers time to find new backers,
privately ministers admit that some sports may find it difficult to
attract extra sponsors amid a scramble to replace the pounds 8
million-a-year provided by tobacco companies.
Darts, supported by Embassy, and angling (Embassy and Benson and Hedges)
claimed they were particularly vulnerable after Frank Dobson, the health
secretary, confirmed on Monday that the Government would outlaw
sponsorship as well as tobacco advertising (Campaign, last week).
Kevin Barron, a Labour MP who failed in his attempt to ban tobacco ads
in the last parliament, is now drawing up a plan for Lottery cash to be
used to fill the gap left by the tobacco industry.
He is to send the proposal to Tessa Jowell, the public health minister.
While ministers will want sporting bodies to make every effort to seek
new backers, the lottery plan could find favour.
Tony Blair told Labour’s annual conference last October that the
lottery’s proceeds should fund public health and education projects. A
bill will be introduced in the current parliamentary session, adding
health and education to the existing ’good causes’ of sport, the arts,
heritage, charities and events to mark the millennium.
’Using lottery money to replace tobacco sponsors would be justified on
both health and sporting grounds,’ one Labour source said. ’It would
provide a breathing space for sports to replace the tobacco money.’
One reason for the Government’s decision to delay its tobacco ad ban for
a year was to resolve the complex issues arising over sponsorship.
’It will take time to work out how British television would cover Grand
Prix cars bearing cigarette logos in countries where advertising is not
banned,’ one senior Government source said.
Live issue, page 16.