McLaren sponsors the brand Velo, which is created by British American Tobacco. This brand aims to shift its focus from cigarettes to tobacco-free nicotine products. Velo offers flavored nicotine pouches, while the Vuse brand provides e-cigarettes.
In April of this year, the Dutch government became part of a growing number of European nations that prohibited the sale of nicotine pouches due to health worries. The main concern was the ease with which addictive snus pouches and vapes could be obtained by underage individuals.
Crucially, however, Dutch legislation concerning the ban on advertising nicotine pouches is still a work in progress, meaning McLaren can legally go ahead carrying its Velo branding in Zandvoort.
A representative from the McLaren team confirmed to Motorsport.com that the branding displayed on their race cars adheres completely to the regulatory requirements and advertising standards of every country they compete in.
A group of Dutch health organizations, including the Dutch Heart Foundation and the KWF Dutch Cancer Society, filed an official complaint with the Dutch Advertising Code Committee due to the absence of legal regulations.
Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60
Photo by: Erik Junius
Carla van Gils, director of KWF Dutch Cancer Society, expressed that the tobacco industry is making relentless efforts to maintain the addiction of young individuals, ensuring the continuation of this repulsive and fatal business.
It is strange to us that advertising a product that is prohibited is permitted.
McLaren’s main Velo branding is displayed on the sidepod at all but seven 2023 races, where it is replaced by crypto firm OKX.
In Zandvoort, the brand will be carried on the car as “LOVE” as part of a fan competition. The company launched a random draw on its social media channels through which 60 fans will see their name added to the MCL60 raced by Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
One contestant will also win a trip to the Dutch Grand Prix.
In numerous countries, smoking alternatives remain mostly unregulated. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has prohibited the sale of any nicotine products to individuals under the age of 21. Conversely, in the United Kingdom, nicotine pouches are currently not classified as tobacco-related items, unlike vapes, and can be lawfully sold to individuals under the age of 18.
Velo’s Dutch Grand Prix fan competition was accessible only to fans over 18 years old.