Jun. 19 2003
Washington, D.C. — NASCAR's announcement today that it has chosen a non-tobacco company to replace R.J. Reynolds as the sponsor of its auto racing series is a positive development for the sport of auto racing, for the nation's health, and especially for NASCAR's millions of youth fans. With NASCAR's exploding popularity, commitment to family-oriented events, and strong appeal to kids, ending tobacco industry sponsorship of its races is the right thing to do. This decision will eliminate one of the tobacco industry's most effective means for circumventing other marketing restrictions and reaching kids with messages that tobacco use is cool and acceptable.
We hope this decision means NASCAR will end all relationships with the tobacco industry and not allow any tobacco company to sponsor NASCAR events or cars in the future. We urge other auto racing associations and teams – in fact, all sports leagues and teams – to follow NASCAR's example and reject any tobacco industry sponsorships. Currently, tobacco companies sponsor several teams on other auto racing circuits, including a Marlboro team sponsored by Philip Morris on the Indy Racing League circuit, a Skoal funny car team sponsored by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company on the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) circuit, and several teams on the Formula One circuit. Through these sponsorships and television coverage of races, millions of kids are exposed to tobacco brands and images every week.
The association of sporting events and athletes with tobacco companies sends a conflicting and harmful message to kids. Athletes provide role models for kids on healthy living. Tobacco companies sell products that addict more than 2,000 kids every day and kill more than 400,000 people in the U.S. every year. Families that make up its loyal fan base can thank NASCAR for today's important decision that will reduce youth exposure to positive messages about these deadly and addictive products.