Thursday, August 7, 2014

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Tobacco is a nasty thing that does terrible things to people. No one can deny that.

But I see a problem with the higher authorities not allowing tobacco companies to sponsor race cars. I know this slightly hinges on political views, but my personal view is the government or ruling bodies should have no business telling us who and who can't sponsor a car.

Again, that hinges on political views. People are going to do what they are going to do. I don't think a cigarette company sponsoring a car is the worlds most inhumane thing. In fact, I see nothing wrong with it. Seeing a KOOL car race on the track has literally no impact on my wanting to smoke a cigarette. Anti-tobacco campaigns are so good and offer such vast amounts of information to the extent that a consumer should be able to make their own decision on if they smoke or not. An advertisement on a racing car shouldn't have an impact on this.

While I see why the rule, which has been adapted by Formula 1, NASCAR, and Indycar around the same time, was implemented, I don't agree with it. Sure, having tobacco exposure to kids and adolescents who are watching the race is a terrible thing, but I don't see the need for it really. It's not like a five year old sees a KOOL car driving by and going, 'Wow, time to smoke up.' That's just not how it works...

Paul Tracy in the KOOL car (Photo credit not given)

And before you all start, yes tobacco sponsored cars do tend to have the best liveries, but that is not what this is about. In this day and age, sponsorship money is hard to come by. Companies like Marlboro, Players, KOOL, and Hollywood shelled mountains of money into racing back in the 1990s and 2000s, fielding drivers that developed and turned into legends. Dario Franchitti, Greg Moore, Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves, Gil de Ferran, and many, many more Indycar drivers benefited from having money from tobacco companies. When it comes down to it, I'd rather see money coming from these companies rather than it sit idle on the sidelines.

One more frustrating bit is the new wave of tobacco products, eCigs, are not banned to sponsor cars. ble eCigs sponsored Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing last season, and now Mistic sponsors Sebastien Bourdais and KV Racing this season. So, just so we are clear, cigarettes are BAD, but eCigs are fine. The logic is real.

Graham Rahal's blu eCigs car from Houston last season (Photo: Chris Owens / Indycar Media)

Do you have an opinion on the manner?! Let me know what you think!

-Matthew Hickey

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