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Tobacco ads to be banned from
international motorsport in 2006

LONDON - The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of motorsports, is to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship worldwide in all motorsport competitions -- worth an estimated £247.4m a year -- from the end of the 2006 season.

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The FIA said in a statement that it is difficult to implement a ban on tobacco advertising in individual countries of such a widely televised sport, because TV viewers would still be able to see tobacco advertising on foreign competitions. It gave this reason as why it is necessary to establish an "international agreement to control the impact of tobacco advertising and sponsorship", the statement said.

The FIA is to join the World Health Organisation's proposed Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2006, and it is from that point onwards that the sponsorship will end. The ban will affect sports such as Formula 1, Formula 3000, the World Championship Rally and motorcycling.

Meanwhile, Belgian lager giant Interbrew is said to be considering sponsoring troubled Formula 1 racing team Prost, which could lead to Belgian driver Bas Leinders racing for the team. The Team would carry Stella Artois branding.

Interbrew owns Stella Artois, Labbatt's and the Bass brands, and sells beer in more than 110 countries.

Such a deal would save the Prost team -- named after its founder, former three-times F1 champion Alain Prost -- from almost certain collapse.

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