News Releases

August 24, 2004

PSC calls on Imperial Tobacco to tell Forsythe Racing team to stop using Player's imagery.

(Ottawa) - Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada today released its correspondence to the President and Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Tobacco, Luc Jobin.  PSC is requesting Mr. Jobin to rescind any permission it has given the Forsythe Racing team to use Player's racing imagery or designs. 

The display of these markings has been illegal under federal and Quebec law since October 1, 2003.

For information:    Cynthia Callard                        613 233 4878/  613  850-5594

Letter to Mr. Luc Jobin  (html)  (pdf)

Backgrounder (html)  (pdf)

August 24, 2004

 Luc Jobin, C.A., President and CEO
Imperial Tobacco Canada,
3711 St. Antoine Street
H4C 3P6

Dear Mr. Jobin:

We are writing today to request, in the strongest term, that you communicate immediate with the Forsythe Racing team with the aim of ending its use of Player’s brand imagery on their racing cars. 

You will note on the attached fact sheets that the Forsythe racing teem employs the imagery, brand elements, and designs that were developed and trademarked by Imperial Tobacco/Player’s tobacco and which continue to evoke your Player’s cigarette brand.  You will note also that the use of these elements is prohibited under both federal and Quebec health law.

I draw your attention specifically to trademarks TMA475855 and TMA475851 which were registered by Imperial Tobacco in 1997, and which continue to be owned by your subsidiary, Player’s Company Inc.  Lest there be any question that the racing car is a cigarette promotion, these trademarks were registered in association with approximately 30 other Player’s tobacco trademarks.

Imperial Tobacco Trademark TMA475855:

Imperial Tobacco Trademark TMA475851:

 Given your close relationship with the Forsythe team (including, as the media report it, your ownership of 50% of the company), I would expect that your request to them should meet a positive response.

 Sincerely yours,


Cynthia Callard
Executive Director


Once more around the track…

The continued promotion of Player’s cigarettes through CART racing.


On October 1, 2003, the federal Tobacco Act and the Quebec Tobacco Act came fully into force.  After that date, tobacco sponsorship promotions were no longer exempted from the general prohibition on tobacco advertising in Canada and in Quebec.

Both federal and Quebec law bans tobacco advertising and sponsorship promotions.

Tobacco is an area of shared jurisdiction, and both federal and provincial governments have legislated restrictions on cigarette promotions.  The federal Tobacco Act says:

19. No person shall promote a tobacco product or a tobacco product-related brand element except as authorized by this Act or the regulations.

24. No person may display a tobacco product-related brand element or the name of a tobacco manufacturer in a promotion that is used, directly or indirectly, in the sponsorship of a person, entity, event, activity or permanent facility.

A brand element includes a brand name, trade-mark, trade-name, distinguishing guise, logo, graphic arrangement, design or slogan that is reasonably associated with, or that evokes, a product, a service or a brand of product or service, but does not include a colour.

The Quebec Tobacco Act says:

22 Any direct or indirect sponsorship that is associated in any manner whatsoever with the promotion of tobacco, a tobacco product., a brand of tobacco product or a manufacturer of tobacco products, is prohibited.

[Until October 1, 2003, existing sponsorship contracts were exempted from this provision]

23 No name, logo, brand element, design or slogan, except a colour, that is associated with tobacco, a tobacco product, a brand of tobacco product or a manufacturer of tobacco products, may be associated ...with a sports, cultural or social facility, a health and social services institution or a research centre attached to a health and social services institution.

Furthermore, no name, logo, brand element, design or slogan, except a colour, that is associated with tobacco, a tobacco product, a brand of tobacco product or a manufacturer of tobacco products, may be associated with a sports, cultural or social event, except in connection with a sponsorship referred to in section 22.


Player’s cigarettes – post 2003



Forsythe cars stopped displaying the name and slogans associated with Player’s Racing/It’s your world after October 1, 2003, but continue to display the graphic arrangements, distinguishing guise and trademarked chevron  of Player’s cigarettes.  The continued use of the distinctive blue and white Player’s chevron on the Forsythe racing team cars and drivers’ suits during Molson Indy races in Canada evokes the Player’s cigarette brand (even though such evocative designs and associations are explicitly banned under federal and Quebec laws).

 The Forythe Racing Car and Imperial Tobacco’s trademarked car design:




The Forsythe Player’s Team was the flag-ship of Imperial Tobacco’s promotional campaign for Player’s cigarettes, and Imperial Tobacco purchased a 50% share in the company.  Ten months after the supposed end of sponsorship, there are continued media reports that Imperial Tobacco is still a co-owner of the Forsythe Racing Team.  In July 2004, the Toronto Star reported that “Imperial Tobacco, through Player’s, still owns a 50 per cent share of Player’s/Forsythe Racing.”  [see note below]

Before October 1, 2003     After October 1, 2003

Before October 1, 2003   

After October 1, 2003 



After retail promotions for cigarettes became illegal on October 1, 2000, Imperial Tobacco took down its “Player’s Racing” displays and replaced them with “CART.COM” displays.  The business connection between CART and Player’s was also clear:  CART was co-owned by and promoted Gerald Forsythe’s Player’s/Forsythe Racing team.

CART filed for bankruptcy in December, 2003 – but CART advertisements continue to be displayed in Canadian stores in August 2004. 

Although these displays arguably promoted Championship Auto Racing Team, they also arguably continued to support Imperial Tobacco’s imagery for Player’s cigarettes because:

  • they obviously resembled Player’s Racing cars

  • they were distributed by cigarette companies

  • they continued to be displayed, months after the CART operation became bankrupt.

  • they were placed in the same mounting as the newly-illegal Player’s ads


Imperial Tobacco has continued to use racing imagery to promote its cigarette brands, and the federal and provincial governments have been unwilling or unable to prevent this. Actions that governments could take (but have not yet done) include:

  • requesting the Forsythe team to voluntarily change its car and uniform design

  • requesting or requiring that race organizers ensure that cars no longer promote cigarette brands (most races are run on city streets or property, which gives government’s the power to make this request)

  • investigating the relationships among Imperial Tobacco, the Forsythe Racing Team and CART and making the results of this investigation public

  • requesting or requiring retailers to remove CART promotions

  • filing a charge under the federal or Quebec Tobacco Act, and allowing a judge to determine whether the racing cars directly or indirectly promote cigarettes

 On August 24th, Mr. Peter Davies of the Forsythe team contacted Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and said that the Player's Racing/Forsythe Team was disbanded, and that the Forsythe team was now independent of its former entity.  He could not explain why the Forsythe team continues to use a design so evocative of Player's cigarettes.