Bunhill: No smoking car

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The Independent Online
THE Cancer Research Campaign has some new and improbable allies: Edwina Currie, Stirling Moss and Hugo Spowers, alumnus of the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club (you know, bungee jumping in Avon, hang-gliding off Kilimanjaro, flying across the Channel in a helium-filled balloon shaped like a kangaroo). In the past nine years, young Hugo has been building up the Prowess Group, which, as you might expect, is a sort of up-market brrm-brrm group involved in restoring, designing and running racing cars.

Last week, Spowers and the CRC threw down the gauntlet to try and break the monopoly of racing car sponsorship presently enjoyed by the tobacco companies. The new combo is trying to find a company seriously interested in getting at the yoof market while also being associated with a glamorous racing team, albeit Formula 3.

The CRC's Louise Pollon is practised in marketing jargon: 'We're targeting the nine-to-12 age group because that's when kids start to smoke. It doesn't help when their teachers and parents preach at them not to; it merely encourages them to think that smoking is cool. We're trying to show that not smoking is even cooler by associating it, not with boring old parents, but with a glamorously risky sport like motor racing.'

The association will not be cheap - sponsoring even one car will cost a cool (sorry) pounds 300,000 and the promoters aren't promising any success until at least the second season.

And where, I hear you ask, did Mrs C come in?

Well, at the launch she made a characteristically gutsy speech, criticising the Government for its spinelessness and demanding the end of tobacco advertising. Mere defeat in the European elections is clearly not going to keep that particular lady down.

(Photograph omitted)