KUALA LUMPUR: The exemption of three sports – Formula One, sepak takraw and football – from the ban on cigarette manufacturers sponsorship will only be until their respective contractual agreements with the tobacco companies end.
Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said once the agreements ended, there would be no renewal.
He explained that was why he had earlier said that the exemption would be indefinite as it was subject to the validity of the agreements.
The ban on cigarette manufacturers from sponsoring telecast of sporting events came into effect on Jan 1. However, the Cabinet agreed to exempt the three sports last year.
Hishammuddin said his argument was that the three sports had a long history and tradition with certain tobacco companies, in terms of sponsorship, and the sports had already signed agreements with these companies.
“So, when we made a decision for the ban to cover all sports, I asked for an exemption for the three sports. But it won't be forever; just until the agreements end. This is also to give space to the sports concerned to find other sponsors which have no connection to the tobacco business,” he told reporters after a ceremony to receive 31,000 signatures from the Health Ministry for the Peace Malaysia campaign yesterday.
Hishammuddin said he agreed with Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng that tobacco companies should have no place in the sponsorship or development of sports in the country, as was the trend all over the world, but that the issue had to be tackled realistically.
“We are always pragmatic and realistic. We realise the decision may result in drastic effects on the sports industry and that was why we asked for the exemption,” he said.
Hishamuddin said the ministry was working out with relevant parties in the three sports for a smooth transition to ensure their development was not affected.
Chua, who presented the signatures to Hishammuddin, said while the Government was serious in its fight against tobacco, it also realised that there were certain contractual considerations involved.
“We realised that we needed to compromise and use a pragmatic approach,” he said when asked to comment on the exemption. “We know we cannot have 100% achievement in our fight against tobacco right now but we have achieved 98% success.
“This includes our counter-publicity where we have allocated RM100mil over five years on campaigns targeting those between 15 and 18 years of age as well as existing smokers.”
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