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Change in French law could end alcohol ad bans

Drinks companies could soon have “almost limitless” freedom to promote their products in France, if a landmark amendment on drinks advertising law is passed.

Gérard César

Currently, French law keeps a tight watch on the advertising of alcoholic drinks due to the Evin Law, introduced 25 years ago and which imposes strict laws on any beverage over 1.2% abv. The law states that no advertising should be targeted at young people, no alcohol advertising is allowed on television or in cinemas and no sponsorship of cultural or sports events is permitted. However a new amendment, set to be discussed in French parliament on Monday, could change all that, as reported by The Telegraph.

Drawn up by Gérard César, a French senator and former winemaker, the amendment has been inserted into a much wider bill on economic reform. Its intention is to make clear a distinction between “communication and advertising” regarding alcohol.

“To talk about wine and its local soil in a press article is not the same as promoting alcohol”,” said César. “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”.

It would give drinks companies “almost limitless” freedom to advertise their products, according to the man who drew up the Evin law 24 years ago, Claude Evin.

“They will be able to do anything they like in terms of advertising. It will be the death of the Evin law adopted 25 years ago,” he told La Parisien.

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”.

On 7 January, a French court ruled the Rhône wine body could use the image in its campaign, but must remove its slogan.

Mr Evin meanwhile, claims the amendment is a way of killing off restrictions for advertising alcohol and is the work of a powerful advertising lobby.

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