Auto Racing And Tobacco Advertising

It would seem that auto-racing events are becoming more and more popular with the younger generation. While some view this as an excellent way to keep kids out of potentially dangerous environments – others have become concerned. The amount of tobacco industry-related advertising at such events is massive and worried adults are concerned that this could be negatively effecting the youth who attend these events.

Tobacco industries have retaliated by claiming that races are attended mainly by adults and that only a small percentage of spectators are children. However, the statistics have been growing steadily over the years. In 1996 it was found by the Simmons Market Research Bureau that over 25 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 watched auto racing on television. This amounted to more than 100 million children who were tuning in at home. In addition, eighteen percent of children actually attended live sports car racing events. Though these statistics are old today, it is proof that this trend has been a growing concern for quite some time. The fact that NASCAR racing has become a form of ‘fun-filled family entertainment’ can be seen in the way that advertisers and event organizers have tried to fill this niche by arranging contests, rides, merchandise sales, hospitality areas, children’s areas and family restaurants. Today there are NASCAR speed parks, NASCAR video games, animated auto racing-based TV series and several magazines designed to exclusively promote the sport. Clearly auto-racing is becoming more and more popular with youngsters and adults and this growing fan base must be considered when it comes to auto-racing advertising at such events.

Unfortunately, little has been done up to this point to decrease the amount of sponsored advertising that can be seen at auto-racing events. Most major tobacco companies emblazon their logos on uniforms, equipment, race cars, T-shirts, toy cars and other merchandise. This means that children as young as five may be staring at a tobacco company logo, having that emblem ingrained on their young minds long before they even understand what it represents. Is all this necessary? It would seem that auto racing has become such a popular activity that continues to attract more and more non-tobacco related sponsors. This would indicate that tobacco-related sponsorship is no longer necessary, but it will take a while before any major changes are likely to come about.

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