Will Anti-Smoking Bill Snuff Out Tobacco Sponsorships?
HR 1256, more commonly referred to as the "anti-smoking" bill, last week passed both the house and the senate and is set to go before the President, at which time he has said he intends to sign it.
The bill aims to curb teenage smoking addiction by expanding warning labels, increased FDA regulation and severely limiting the possible venues for marketing tobacco-related products. One line that may be of interest to sponsorship marketers:
"Any remaining tobacco-related sponsorships of sports and entertainment events will be banned, as will giveaways of non-tobacco items with the purchase of a tobacco product".
Tobacco companies have historically been big spenders in the media sponsorship game, and in particular auto racing. Companies like Winston, Camel, Lucky Strike, KOOL, Viceroy, Virginia Slims and of course, Marlboro. Their media spends raised the profile and awareness of not only their products, but the events they sponsored such as NASCAR, F1 and women's tennis. Tobacco products have also been the most highly regulated.
How will this bill change the way tobacco companies promote and use sponsorships, if at all? Even though few tobacco sponsorships remained in tact prior to the bill, my guess is tobacco co's will find new ways of "owning" invite-only proprietary events and experiences that may help them to creatively adapt to the new restrictions. No giveaways though - the bill will ban that too.
Any lawyers want to weigh in on what the new restrictions will mean?