27 August 2019
Tobacco company branding and logos will be banned entirely from the Melbourne Grand Prix to close a loophole that was exploited by cigarette giant Philip Morris and Ferrari.
Both British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris had planned to promote their corporate brands through logos or slogans emblazoned on cars and uniforms at the race, but both companies dropped their branding after the Andrews government objected.
At the time the companies denied they were promoting any specific products in their advertising.
BAT sought to spruik its “A Better Tomorrow” campaign, which promoted “potentially reduced-risk products” through McLaren, while Ferrari promoted Philip Morris’ research division, Mission Winnow.
Cigarette advertising is already illegal but now any words or designs associated with tobacco companies will be included in the ban.
A “rarely used” exemption for tobacco advertising at some events will also be repealed.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said the government was acting to stop tobacco companies from using “sneaky tactics” to circumvent laws.
“Victoria has led the way in cracking down on deadly tobacco advertising and we want it to stay that way,” she said. “These important changes will stop tobacco giants from misleading Victorians and putting lives at risk.”
In February Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services launched an investigation into the Philip Morris branding for Ferrari with colours and design similar to previous Marlboro advertising.
Quit Victoria director Sarah White welcomed the move to close the loophole in the Tobacco Act.
“Tobacco products are the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Australia and tobacco companies are constantly working to circumvent our laws to make a profit,” she said.
The proposed changes will need to pass through both houses of the Victorian Parliament.
About 4000 people die in Victoria each year due to smoking.
Melbourne has locked in the Formula One Grand Prix until at least 2025 but the Andrews government does not disclose how much taxpayer money is spent on the event.