Sports Franchises, Vending Machine Operators and Billboard Companies Will Feel an Impact from the Tobacco Settlement. Still, None of Those Businesses Depends on One Industry for Survival. Tobacco Deal: Only a Pinch

Article excerpt

When the smoke clears from the recent tobacco settlement, the

sports world will emerge with very little damage.

Even NASCAR, where tobacco enjoys a high profile, should escape

with barely a dented fender. Some Jacksonville sports

franchises, however, will feel a little pain.

The Lizard Kings of hockey would be financially bruised, and

the Suns will miss revenue from tobacco's advertising pitch.

Still, the planned advertising ban is more a symbolic end to

the increasingly distant relationship between sports and

tobacco.

The days of professional athletes puffing on cigarettes in

television commercials and on billboards disappeared long before

last week's tobacco settlement was reached.

"Professional sports doesn't stand to lose that much," said

Sean Brenner, editor of Team Marketing Report based in Chicago.

"Most major league sports for one reason or another have gone to

significantly less or no tobacco advertising compared to what

existed years ago."

"Over the past couple of years, many big league stadiums have

become smoke-free and that has gone hand in hand with little or

no tobacco advertising," he said.

"In fact, in some stadiums there are anti-smoking messages."

The Jacksonville Jaguars are among a few National Football

League teams that promote anti-tobacco messages in game-day

programs and in Alltel Stadium.

This year, the message will be on the south end zone

scoreboard.

It was the first NFL team to remove tobacco advertising from

its game-day program.

In 1995, a consent decree prohibited tobacco companies from

placing their logos in sports venues where they would be visible

to television cameras.

And that has produced fewer opportunities for tobacco companies

to appear in professional sporting venues.

"With tobacco ads being banned from television, there is no

tobacco advertising that is supporting game telecast, which is a

major source of NFL revenue," said Greg Aiello, an NFL

spokesman.

An NFL policy that has been in effect for at least 20 years

prohibits players, coaches and other employees from endorsing or

appearing in advertisements for tobacco and alcohol products.

But relationships with tobacco continue in some sports.

Jacksonville-based Swisher International, makers of King

Edwards cigars, is one of 55 corporate sponsors of the

Jacksonville Lizard Kings, a member of the East Coast Hockey

League.

The company sponsors the Swisher International smoking suite

outside the Coliseum.

A Swisher sign hangs over an exit leading to the area and free

cigars come out regularly. The company also has signs on the

dasher boards that circle the ice.

"They would be a loss that's for sure, and that is a concern

for us," said Pete Smith, a corporate sales executive for the

Jacksonville Lizard Kings.

Also, Swisher's King Edward ad on the outfield wall of Wolfson

Park would have to come down along with a Marlboro Man ad.

There are three local tobacco shops with advertisements in the

Jacksonville Suns' gameday program.

The Suns, a Class AA baseball team, recently entered a

threeyear deal with Marlboro, according to Suns owner Peter

Bragan Sr. The team has generated revenue from the Marlboro ad

for about 10 years.

The ruling is not expected to drastically impact the Suns

advertising revenue stream.

"It is a very small portion of our advertising revenue," Bragan

said.

SCORECARD

In most major sports, tobacco advertising has become scarce. …