Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has denounced a tie-in between McLaren’s Formula 1 team and British American Tobacco (BAT).

The statement follows a joint press release issued on Monday, which explained how the tobacco giant would have ‘on-car and off-car presence throughout the season, at all times in line with applicable regulation and legislation’.

An ASH spokesperson expressed her scepticism at BAT’s claim that it hopes to ‘transform tobacco’ by developing less-risky alternatives to combustible tobacco, such as its Vype e-cigarette.

Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy at ASH, said:

“Tobacco branding on formula 1 cars was ubiquitous until it was banned, as all tobacco advertising was over ten years ago now, because it was shown to cause children to take up smoking. While tobacco companies may say that this time it’s different, it’s hard to credit that BAT is part of creating a ‘better tomorrow’ while they continue to aggressively market their cigarettes wherever they can.

“As with PMI [Philip Morris International], who are currently being investigated by the Australian authorities in relation to their sponsorship of Ferrari, it seems tobacco companies are determined to push the limits of regulation with their marketing practices. It will take more than a new logo and a fancy slogan to convince us they’ve turned over a new leaf.”

Tobacco advertising in the sport has been banned since 2006.

Meanwhile, independent vape brand Totally Wicked sponsors Team Brit, an team of disabled drivers who compete alongside able-bodied drivers in the Britcar Championship.