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France votes to loosen alcohol ad laws

French MPs have voted against the government to amend the country’s strict alcohol advertising laws, after years of protest from France’s wine industry.

Gérard César, French senator and former winemaker, tabled the successful amendment  (Photo: Wiki)
Gérard César, French senator and former winemaker, tabled the successful amendment (Photo: Wiki)

MPs from across the country’s political parties voted in favour of relaxing France’s stringent laws around the advertising of alcohol, backing an amendment to a law that will allow for a difference to be made between “information” and “advertising” surrounding alcohol.

The Loi Evin, as the 1991 alcohol advertising law is known, banned TV advertising of any drink with an alcohol content of more than 1.2% and kicked the industry out of sport and cultural event sponsorships.

In his successful proposal to loosen the law, French senator and former winemaker Gérard César tabled an amendment to a government law currently passing through parliament in an attempt to see the restrictions lifted.

“To talk about wine and its local soil in a press article is not the same as promoting alcohol”, César said when he tabled the motion earlier this week. “Wine is a product that accompanies a meal in an agreeable way, and is associated with gastronomy”, he said, adding that it had nothing to do with binge drinking.

Health bodies have been wary about the new amendment and have campaigned to keep the original 24-year-old law in place.

The French minister for health, Marisol Touraine, appealed for the law not to be changed, saying that she wanted “each and every [MP] to take responsibility,” when they voted. “Do not change the law,” she said, as English-lagnuage French news site The Local reports.

Earlier this year, the regional body for Côtes du Rhône wines was ordered to amend one of its advertisements after it was deemed to link alcohol with happiness, illegal under France’s Evin law.

The advert, which launched in October 2014, features a businessman being lifted above a city by a balloon with the tagline Au Goût de la Vie – “a taste for life”.

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