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Renault livery could break Canadian law UPDATE (GMM)  Renault's new black and gold livery might fall afoul of strict anti-tobacco advertising laws in Canada this year. That is the claim of the Toronto based Globe and Mail newspaper, after the Enstone based team's newly Group Lotus-sponsored livery was launched officially last weekend at a racing car show in Birmingham.

Mario Andretti in Montreal, Canada with the John Player Special Lotus in 1978 after he had clinched the F1 world title that year
The 2011 Lotus Renault GP livery is a tribute to the Lotus cars of the 70s and 80s, whose black and gold colors were to promote Imperial Tobacco's John Player Special cigarette brand.

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar recently played down the latter fact, insisting that the 2011 Renault livery will not have any "negative implications with potential tobacco advertising".

But a Health Canada spokesperson revealed that if a F1 car did resemble a cigarette packet whilst racing on Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, "tobacco inspectors would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred".

An Imperial Tobacco spokesperson said: "It is categorically against the law to present any likeness to a cigarette pack.

"If I were Lotus (Renault) ... I would be concerned -- I wonder if they are aware of the law in Canada."

01/18/11 The revival of the legendary John Player Special-Lotus colors may be great for nostalgic Formula One fans, but the historic black and gold paint scheme may cause some headaches for its team during Canadian Grand Prix in June.

While it’s a neat tribute to the Lotus teams of the 1970s and 1980s, having the Renault F1 team’s car look even remotely similar to a cigarette pack likely violates Canada’s ban on tobacco advertising, even if it has no connection to the former sponsorship or the John Player Special (JPS) brand owner. Renault F1 announced late last year that it would resurrect the JPS colors after signing a sponsorship deal with Group Lotus. zzzz

None of Lotus’ rich history will matter to Health Canada, which enforces the Tobacco Act, should the car appear on track in Montreal in June. Its spokesperson would not discuss the specific case of the JPS color-scheme, but said Health Canada “tobacco inspectors would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred” should a car painted to resemble a cigarette pack make an appearance on Montreal’s 13-turn, 4.361-kilometre Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

“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 spokesperson added.

According to the Act, promotion is “a representation about a product or service by any means, whether directly or indirectly, including any communication of information about a product or service and its price and distribution, that is likely to influence and shape attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about the product or service.”

It appears that it could easily be argued that the Renault’s plans to display the same black color and gold pin-striping that formerly promoted the JPS brand and associate it with the glitz and glamour of F1 would contravene the legislation.

The JPS livery dates back to the 1972 F1 season when the black and gold paint scheme became synonymous with Team Lotus during a partnership ran to the end of 1986, although the team’s sponsor changed briefly from 1979 to 1981. JPS-Lotus cars took two world championships, with Mario Andretti driving to the team’s sixth F1 drivers’ title in 1978, six years after Emerson Fittipaldi won the outfit’s fifth. The team also won three of its seven constructor’s crowns under the JPS banner. More at Globe and Mail

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