NEWS: Labour pledges not to restrict tobacco giants’ sports links

The Labour Party has given the clearest indication yet that it will back off from a total ban on sports sponsorship by tobacco companies if it wins power at the next general election (Campaign, last week).

The Labour Party has given the clearest indication yet that it will back

off from a total ban on sports sponsorship by tobacco companies if it

wins power at the next general election (Campaign, last week).



Kate Hoey, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, who is a close associate of Tony

Blair and tipped to be a sports minister under Labour, pledged last week

that the party would not seek further curbs on tobacco sponsorship of

sport or replace the voluntary code.



Hoey was speaking at a conference organised by the Incorporated Society

of British Advertisers. She said Labour’s heritage team saw sponsorship

as ‘crucially important and very much to be encouraged’.



The speech represents the first official pro-sponsorship statement by

Labour.



But although the heritage team are convinced there is a case for

sponsorship, it is understood that the shadow health team is still

finalising its policy on tobacco. One factor in the heritage team’s

favour is the explosion in cross-border satellite TV, which has

convinced many in the party that further restrictions would be

unworkable.



Hoey said: ‘My own feelings are that the present sponsorship by the

tobacco industry should continue, and it will be the European Union that

will be making the strategic moves.’



John Hooper, the ISBA director general, said: ‘It is refreshing to hear

such positive and enthusiastic support for this vital part of so many

companies’ marketing communications strategies.’



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