Tobacco marketer pulls sponsorship over Canadian rules

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TORONTO--Tobacco marketer JTI-Macdonald Corp. has pulled its title backing of Canada's most-watched golf tournament, citing tightening federal regulations restricting tobacco sponsorships.

JTI has sponsored the Export 'A' Skins Game -- named for its Export 'A' cigarette brand -- for eight years, but now the marketer says the government's law "hamstrings" the company, making it pointless to continue.

Canada's regulations on tobacco sponsorship call for restrictions to be phased in starting this October, leading to an outright ban three years from now.

JTI's pull-out didn't surprise organizer International Management Group, which anticipates it could have another marketer lined up for the $1.4 million sponsorship in five or six months.

"Over the years, we've had very casual discussions (with marketers) on a what-if basis," says Michael Merrall, senior VP-managing director of Toronto-based IMG Canada. "Now we'll take those discussions up to a moreserious level."

Canada's Export 'A' Skins Game draws top golfers from the U.S., Canada and around the world, attracting considerable public and media attention.

Copyright August 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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