Jeff Pappone’s excellent story on the Globe and Mail’s website – that the Renault F1 team’s colours this season are reminiscent of the John Player Special cigarette sponsorship of Team Lotus in the 1970s and that this will be in contravention of Canada’s ban on tobacco advertising if the cars show up looking like that at the Canadian Grand Prix in June – should be a rallying cry for anybody in this country who still believes in freedom of thought and freedom of action and freedom of speech.
Enough is enough.
You can’t advertise cigarettes and you can’t even look at the packaging any more (a walk into any variety or milk store tells you that) so who cares what colours are on a racing car?
If the words "John Player Special" or "cigarettes" were on the car, I could maybe – maybe – understand the fuss. But the colours?
The do-gooders among us who managed to cripple the development of young Canadian racing talent in this country by terrorizing the tobacco industry, just never seem to quit.
A Health Canada spokesperson is quoted in that story as saying – in so many words – that tobacco sponsorship is forbidden in Canada and that any car that is painted to resemble a cigarette package would be investigated.
(I would think the time and trouble of Health Canada employees might be better spent investigating why Canadians keep getting sent to the U.S. for treatment because there’s apparently a shortage of doctors on this side of the border instead of worrying about the colours on a racing car, but what do I know?)
Go back two paragraphs and read those words - "that any car that is painted to resemble a cigarette package would be investigated" - and ask yourself this question: do we live in a free country?
Not on your life.
It’s cigarettes now but mark my words: the worst investment anybody can make in the foreseeable future in this country will be in a fast-food franchise because that’s next. By 2021, I guarantee that McDonald’s and Burger King and Wendy’s and KFC will be severely curtailed in their ability to promote their product because fast food isn’t good for your health – don’tcha know?
Who cares what colours Renault F1 paints their cars?
I’ll tell you how stupid this whole thing is.
Four or five years ago, I was in Montreal for the Grand Prix as the guest of BMW. I spent that weekend in the ultra-ritzy Paddock Club hospitality suites. The suites were decorated with oil paintings of Grand Prix cars and personalities of yesteryear.
On one wall was a painting of Ayrton Senna in a McLaren that happened to be sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes. On another wall was a painting of Nigel Mansell in a car that had a Camel cigarettes logo on it.
Some guy went around with a roll of adhesive tape and a pair of scissors and taped over the words Marlboro and Camel on those paintings.
That isn’t stupid, people.
That’s insane – and that’s the world we’re living in.