The Department of Health and Ageing has cleared the official V8 Supercars website of breaching the strict laws on the promotion of tobacco advertising after the site posted historic images of a car heavily branded with Winfield branding.
The V8 Supercars Saturday Sleuthing feature included several photos of a car with Winfield sponsorship across the side and front of the car.
Ads for the Government’s Quitline are currently being served on the site above the images.
The item focuses on the history of the Gibson Motorsport Commodores driven by Fred Gibson in the 90s. The Health Department’s Quitnow website is currently running a competition to win a series of four-day circuit passes and grid walks. To win, readers must say in 25 words or less what would motivate themselves or a friend / family member to quit smoking.
The Health Department told Mumbrella: “Under the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 (the Act), with certain limited exceptions, it is an offence to publish or broadcast a tobacco advertisement.
“The Act defines a tobacco advertisement very broadly and it includes any writing, still or moving picture, sign, symbol or other visual image that gives publicity to, or otherwise promotes or is intended to promote (among other things) smoking of or the purchase or use of, tobacco products.
“The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing has viewed the images at the website: ‘Saturday Sleuthing: The Original Gibson Motorsport Commodore’ and it appears they are the original Gibson Commodore from two decades ago.
“The Department has considered this matter and is of the view that the advertisements accompanying the article are covered by the exception in section 19 of the Act, for incidental publication of a ‘tobacco advertisement’. Therefore, the Department will not be taking action in relation to this matter.”
Section 19 of the Act states that an advertiser may be exempt from the act if “the person publishes the advertisement as an accidental or incidental accompaniment to the publication of other matter.”
In its statement, the Department of Health did not answer Mumbrella’s question of whether it had an issue of its Quitline ad appearign next to the Winfield branding. However, almost a week after first being asked to comment, the ad is still being served.
UPDATE 4.30pm: Spokesman for V8 Supercars Cole Hitchcock said he had no problem with the page. He said: “These cars are a part of Australian history and we have no problem with them from an editorial standpoint. We are obviously familiar with the advertising laws and do not have any affiliation with any tobacco companies.”