ITC is seeking a level-playing field. If foreign tobacco brands sponsoring live events are not masked and are visible on television, then Indian brands too should be allowed to support such events.
Government sources confirmed that ITC has sent representations to the Health Ministry asking that it too be allowed to sponsor live events.
It has sought a reversal of the Government policy of not allowing tobacco companies to sponsor live events.
"Representatives of the company have asked us that if brands such as Marlboro, which sponsor Formula One racing events, can be shown, then why Indian brands are prevented from sponsoring events," the sources said.
The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has already expressed its inability to mask tobacco brands sponsoring live events.
"It is practically impossible to crop or mask brand names or logos of tobacco products during live coverage and transmission of event such as news, sporting events and other international events and activities," it has said.
ITC had earlier been sponsoring the Indian cricket team. But after the implementation of the Tobacco Control legislation, which banned all kinds of advertisements of tobacco products, the company had to dissociate itself with the sport.
International reports indicate that the tobacco industry spends millions of pounds a year sponsoring sports around the world, mainly on Formula One, golf, and snooker.
In fact, Formula One motor racing is the most heavily tobacco-sponsored sport, despite the fact that Governments across the world are under pressure to take steps to ban promotion of tobacco products.
Meanwhile, ITC has made a case before the Government to permit it to advertise its Gold Flake Expressions greeting cards and Wills Life Style apparel, which it claims are genuine brand extensions.
"The company has said that these are genuine products and therefore should be exempted from the ad ban. We have asked the company to give us individual turnover figures of these products," said Government sources.
An inter-Ministerial committee comprising representatives of the Health and I&B Ministries will be set up to give a case-by-case clearance for such applications. "Once the committee is in place, we will refer the ITC proposal to it," the sources said.