PARIS: One of the world's leading medical journals has blasted China's first-ever Grand Prixfor bringing Formula One and Big Tobacco together in a race to the death.
The editorial, published in today's issue of The Lancet, describes the event as a glittering victory for tobacco giants, desperate to use Grand Prix sponsorship to promote their brands in the state-dominated Chinese market and other fast-growing Asian markets.
China is by far the world's largest cigarette market, with some 350 million smokers accounting for one in three cigarettes smoked globally, the editorial says.
The very staging of this event constitutes a triumph for the tobacco companies, reflecting both the enormity of the commercial opportunity presented by China and the strategic value of the sport.
The authors are public-health researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the United States' Mayo Clinic.
They cite internal British American Tobacco (BAT) documents which admit that the goal behind sponsoring British American Racing (BAR) is to build brand awareness of State Express 555 brand across China, India and Southeast Asia. AFP