Williams Confirm Niquitin Deal

BMW-Williams this morning unveiled Formula One's first anti-tobacco sponsor after signing a deal with NiQuitin CQ ahead of this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix as revaled by Atlas F1.

Williams Confirm Niquitin Deal

BMW-Williams this morning unveiled Formula One's first anti-tobacco sponsor after signing a deal with NiQuitin CQ ahead of this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix as revaled by Atlas F1.

The Grove-based team buck the trend of rivals Ferrari, McLaren and Renault by avoiding tobacco sponsorship and have a "significant" agreement to run with logos of the GlaxoSmithKline product on their cars from Imola onwards.

The season-long deal, which will begin at Imola this weekend and can be extended beyond the 2003 season, is the first of its kind.

"GlaxoSmithKline's historic move into Formula One is excellent news for the BMW-Williams team and Formula One as a whole," said team boss Sir Frank Williams. "With the impending ban for tobacco sponsorships looming, it is highly appropriate that a leading smoking cessation brand is taking its place. This deal confirms that there is a future for Formula One after tobacco sponsorship".

Simon Pulsford, general manager and vice-president of GlaxoSmithKline, added: "We want to make giving up smoking using NiQuitin CQ, more aspirational, and the BMW Williams team provides a perfect means to that end.

"It allows us to inspire hundreds of millions of smokers, who have been bombarded with pro-tobacco messages through Formula One for decades, to give up smoking."

Tobacco sponsors represent Formula One's second biggest investor, with an estimated $244 million (USD) put into the sport compared to $922 million from the major car manufacturers. The sport is currently battling against a tobacco sponsorship ban that is due to be introduced in the European Union in 2005, ahead of the planned worldwide ban in 2006.

The sport's governing body, the FIA, are threatening to move Grands Prix outside the European Union to avoid the ban and races in Bahrain and China will make their debuts on the calendar next year. Williams' head of marketing Jim Wright, however, said that the deal is part of the team's strategy to steer clear of tobacco advertising and believes it will show the way forward to the remainder of the grid.

"I think from our side it is a landmark deal for the team and for motorsport," Wright said. "It will help motor racing kick the tobacco habit. The important message is that from our side in 2000 we were the first team, or the first Championship winning team, to denounce tobacco and made a decision to move away from tobacco.

"This deal reflects that and shows the way forward. It proves there is life for Formula One after tobacco. Initially it is for the season but providing GlaxoSmithKline are pleased it can be extended. Obviously the price is confidential but it is a sizeable investment and a good one for the sport."

Wright insists the team's stance will show the way forward, but added that not all teams on the grid will agree with the anti-tobacco stance despite the impending advertising ban in 2006.

"Yes we used to be sponsored by tobacco companies but in terms of the sport now it is different as a whole to the commercial activities of our team," Wright said. "We've had no tobacco sponsorship for three seasons now and this deal strengthens our opinion that tobacco is not the future."

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