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