Briefing: Sport Tobacco sponsors apply the brakes

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More than pounds 7m was spent by tobacco companies on sports sponsorship during 1995-96, the latest year for which figures are available.

However, information given by the sports minister, Tony Banks, in a Commons written reply showed it was the lowest amount in the five years since statistics began to be collected in 1991-1992.

The figures, provided under the voluntary agreement on sponsorship of sport by tobacco companies, showed a pounds 7.4m total in 1995-96, compared with more than pounds 8m the previous year and a high of pounds 10.4m in 1992-93.

This week, Conservatives accused the Government of a u-turn on its policy over a proposed ban on tobacco sports sponsorship by agreeing to allow it to continue in Formula One racing.

They also accused the public health minister, Tessa Jowell, of a "hint of impropriety" after it was discovered her husband David Mills was until recently a non-executive director of Formula One company Benetton Formula. The charge was strongly rejected by Ms Jowell.