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Renault livery could break Canadian law

ESPNF1 Staff
January 18, 2011 « Court date set for Lotus squabble | »
Renault's new livery is a nostalgic throwback to the Lotus Renaults of the 1980s © Getty Images

There is a danger that Renault will not be allowed to run its new black and gold Lotus livery at the Canadian Grand Prix in June this year, according to a report.

The livery is a nostalgic throwback to the John Player Special-sponsored Lotuses of the 1970s and 1980s, but experts in the field suspect that will not wash with Canada's strict anti-tobacco laws. Even though the JPS brand has no ties with the team, Canada's Tobacco Act states that "no person shall promote a tobacco product by means of an advertisement that depicts, in whole or in part, a tobacco product, its package or a brand element of one or that evokes a tobacco product or a brand element."

A spokesperson for Health Canada would not comment directly on the Lotus example, but told the Toronto Globe and Mail: "Tobacco inspectors would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred."

And added: "The Tobacco Act prohibits the promotion of tobacco products or tobacco product-related brand elements in Canada, except as authorized by the Act or regulations. Tobacco product sponsorship is prohibited entirely and tobacco advertising is severely restricted."

The JPS brand is owned by Imperial Tobacco in Canada and a spokesman for the company said: "It is categorically against the law to present any likeness to a cigarette pack. If I were Lotus though, I would be concerned -- I wonder if they are aware of the law in Canada."

However, as recently as 2003 tobacco sponsorship appeared in full on F1 cars at the Canadian Grand Prix despite the Tobacco Act existing in law since 1997. In 2006 BAR's cars appeared in Lucky Strike colours - if not sponsorship - and in 2008 Ferrari ran its controversial barcode that was considered by some to be subliminal advertising for title sponsor Marlboro.

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has moved to play down the new livery's tobacco connotations, insisting there would be no "negative implications with potential tobacco advertising".