If it looks like a pack of cigarettes, it must be a F1 car. Of course that’s quite a ludicrous proposition, even if we’ve all seen F1 cars smoking, but apparently a rather bizarre allusion along those lines is being bandied about with a certain choice of livery, in this case Lotus-Renault GP’s.

It has all to do with the choice of the black base scheme with gold outlines, or not so much with the colours themselves – well, can’t have a car in white and red then, can we? – but rather the fact that the livery, officially unveiled at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham last week, derives its inspiration from the John Player Special-Lotus colours worn in the glory days.

Such nostalgia has been alluded to, in a big way, so there’s no denying that it’s a case of resurrection and not just picking black and gold out from the colour palette coincidentally or because it looked, well, pretty.

It is this intimation that may cause problems for the team in June at the Canadian GP in Montreal. A news report from The Globe and Mail in Toronto says that the livery may run afoul of the strict anti-tobacco advertising laws in place in Canada.

The point is, if the car looks even remotely similar to a cigarette pack it’s quite likely to violate Canada’s ban on tobacco advertising, even if the colour scheme has no connection to the former sponsorship or the John Player Special brand owner (in this case, Imperial Tobacco), the paper reports.

A Health Canada spokesperson said that “tobacco inspectors would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred” should a car painted to resemble a cigarette pack attempt to do the race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

The Act prohibits the promotion of tobacco products or tobacco product-related brand elements in Canada, except as authorised by the Act or regulations, and its definition of promotion is “a representation about a product or service by any means, whether directly or indirectly, including any communication of information about a product or service and its price and distribution, that is likely to influence and shape attitudes, beliefs and behaviours about the product or service.”

Such is the level of strictness that the black and gold colours of the John Player Special brand, which is sold in Canada, can’t even be displayed on Imperial Tobacco Canada’s website where it describes the brand. No pictures, no packaging, no brand colours, simple as that.

All this, naturally, arguably – or unarguably – means that the inspired-livery then could seriously fall short of getting through the gates if someone decides to get dictatorial about it. An alternative would be for Lotus-Renault GP to deploy an alternate colour scheme for Canada, but then FIA regulations stipulate that both team cars must be identical and sport the same livery for the entire season. Talk about getting a puff out of things.