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Teams Get Green Light for Tobacco Ads

The BAR, Jordan and Renault teams have been given the green light to join Ferrari in running with full tobacco logos in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday after the British government decided to delay a clarification on tobacco legislation, Autosport-Atlas can reveal

The teams have been told that they must now wait a few weeks for the clarification they have been after from the British government about whether they actually run the risk of being prosecuted for running with tobacco logos in races.

It is hoped that the matter can be resolved before the Turkish Grand Prix on August 21.

"The teams have been told that the situation is unclear and we are looking to clarify it further," a Department of Health spokeswoman told Autosport-Atlas.  "We've done all we can for the time being."

That delay has come about because the government itself remains unclear on some aspects of the European Union legislation despite a series of meetings this week. It is in no rush to make a decision because it believes, contrary to the belief of some teams, that the anti-tobacco legislation only comes into force after Sunday's race.

There had been an element of confusion about whether the British legislation took effect at the beginning or the end of July 31. The confirmation that it is the end of the day, when the EU legislation is also enforced, means that the teams are now free to run with their logos in the race on Sunday.

Ferrari always intended to run with their Marlboro logos anyway this weekend because as an Italian team they are not subject to the British legislation.

The calls for clarification had been led by BAR boss Nick Fry, amid fears that British legislation aimed at enforcing a European Union directive banning cigarette advertising could leave the British teams open to prosecution if they ran with tobacco sponsorship.

Under one interpretation of the law, the teams would be acting illegally if they raced with tobacco logos outside the EU because television images of the cars could be broadcast back into Britain.

Fry said before this weekend that he was getting impatient at the failure of the government to give the teams a firm guideline on the situation.

"We're somewhat frustrated that we haven't had a clear answer on this. We need something in writing, something firm," he said. "There has been an ongoing request for clarification that has been going on for six months now but we are none the wiser."

BAR had taken three separate livery options to Hungary this weekend to cover all eventualities regarding tobacco sponsorship.

McLaren have already decided to end their sponsorship link with cigarette company West after today's first practice sessions.

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