Casey Stoner shrugs off tobacco controversy

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Reigning MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner has shrugged off a political storm after anti-smoking campaigners in Australia branded him ‘high-speed drug pusher’ for his association with Ducati sponsor Marlboro.

Anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health blamed Stoner for promoting smoking to young people in Australia because of his links with the famous Marlboro brand.

Although Stoner only appears in fully branded Marlboro livery in two races due to strict advertising regulations restricting tobacco advertising, the 22-year-old has been strongly criticised.

But he avoided getting dragged into the controversy by saying: “ I firmly believe that every adult human being should retain the right to make his or her own decisions in life, whether correct or not. I am happy where I am with the team I have got behind me.”

As the 2007 Young Australian of the Year and reigning MotoGP world champion, anti-smoking groups believe Stoner’s hugely increased profile in Australia is helping promote smoking.

But his factory Ducati team boss Livio Suppo said: “There are international laws about tobacco sponsorship and advertising and we always follow this strictly.”


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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt