Published December 06, 2012
Isn’t Tony Stewart the one they call “Smoke?”
NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., has licensed his name and likeness to a cigar. The “Dale Earnhardt JR” is made by Louisville, Ky.-based Ted’s Cigars, and features Earnhardt’s ‘88’ car number, a facsimile of his signature and his photo on its packaging.
Tobacco advertising has been banned by law in NASCAR and other sports since 2010, and the immensely popular auto racing organization prides itself on a squeaky-clean image.
But neither the law nor NASCAR has a rule barring drivers, who operate as independent contractors and retain ownership of their branding, from endorsing tobacco or any other products outside of their relationship with the series.
A NASCAR spokesperson told FoxNews.com that the series’ policy is that “tobacco advertising is regulated by the federal government,” and “If the advertising is permitted by the government – we allow it.”
“It is the teams’ responsibility to prove to us that a particular product is permitted.”
The 6-inch Earnhardt stogies sell for $12 each or $100 for 10 on the company’s website, with a box of 25 going for $225. They’re described as a having a “mild, creamy smoke with a smooth finish.”
The NASCAR name and logo are not used on the cigars or their packaging, but the Ted’s Cigars website does refer to Earnhardt as “NASCAR’s iconic driver.”
Representatives for Earnhardt and the NASCAR Sprint Cup team he drives for, Hendrick Motorsports, have not responded to calls for comment.