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Tobacco Sponsorship and Advertising in Sport

Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 13 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Tobacco sponsorship of sporting organisations, teams, and events in Australia has been banned because of the ethical and public health considerations surrounding tobacco products.

In 1962 the Royal College of Physicians of London published the first comprehensive report on smoking and health, presenting evidence that smoking is a major health hazard. Two years later, the United States Surgeon-General issued a substantial report drawing similar conclusions.

Background

In the United States the first attempts to restrict cigarette advertising in broadcast media came under a ‘fairness doctrine’ that required broadcasters to air anti-cigarette advertising if they wished to carry pro-cigarette advertising. The result of this strategy was that cigarette manufacturers withdrew from television advertising, but continued for several years to deliver their product messages through sponsorship. Ultimately, sports organisations, teams, and events adopted the position that sponsorship by tobacco companies was unethical.

In Australia, tobacco advertising has been banned from television since 1976. State Governments have also responded to the health risks of cigarette smoking by supporting alternative messages, such as ‘quit smoking’ campaigns; similar campaigns have continued for many years as a central strategy in health promotion.

Tobacco in Australia provides an index of research on the detrimental health effects of smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke. The weight of research underpins the decision by sporting organisations to break all ties with tobacco products. Health promotion sponsorship of sporting organisations and sports events was initially used as a replacement for tobacco sponsorship.

VicHealth action agenda for health promotionVicHealth, (2013). Reduction (and elimination) of tobacco use is still seen as a health promotion issue and this report lists ‘prevention of tobacco use’ as a high priority.  Tobacco smoking is still the leading single preventable cause of disease and death. The less people smoke and are exposed to harmful second-hand smoke, the greater the health gains across the community. To achieve these gains, organisations such as VicHealth have targeted young people, encouraging them to not take up smoking. Sport is a good vehicle for reaching young people and delivering the anti-smoking message. VicHealth and other organisations also continue to build the evidence base that supports anti-smoking; to know what works and ensure that this knowledge is translated into action.

Quit Now, Australian Government, Department of Health. The Quit Now campaign provides information on the health risks of smoking, and what individuals can do to reduce or eliminate their dependence on tobacco use.

Further information

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