Japan tobacco to withdraw from F1

UPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact.' See Hot News page for statement from Japan Tobacco. Can Marlboro be far behind? 01/31/06 Japan Tobacco will announce later today that it is withdrawing from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season. The company has been involved in the sport since 1992 when its Cabin brand sponsored Tyrrell and it switched to Benetton in 1994 with Mild Seven. The company has been the major sponsor of the team ever since, despite the fact that it was sold to Renault. The company says it is withdrawing in order to keep its commitment to the International Tobacco Products Marketing Standards which defines the minimum restrictions which the companies agree to place on themselves worldwide. This was agreed in September 2001 by representatives of Philip Morris, British American Tobacco (BAR) and Japan Tobacco (Renault) when they meet in New York to create a common code of advertising and sponsorship standards which included an agreement to end sports sponsorships on December 1 2006 on the understanding that the sport involved requires "above-average physical fitness for someone of the age group of those taking part".

"It has always been the greatest pleasure to work with such a committed partner as the Renault F1 team," says Seigo Nishizawa, the head of the company's tobacco business. in a copy of the release obtained by Grandprix.com. "Thanks to the team's remarkable achievements with their expertise and cutting edge technologies, the Mild Seven brand name and its Blue wind logo are now among the most recognizable brands in the world. I wish the team great success in 2006 and also for many years to come." Grandprix.com

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