Movendi International; 19 June 2020 

France: Alcohol Advertising Ban Wins Case in High-Court

In France, the so called “Loi Evin” or the Evin Law strictly regulates alcohol marketing and largely bans alcohol advertising. Nevertheless, despite the legal repercussions Big Alcohol continues to break the law or attempts to circumvent it. Recently a landmark case against such a breach of the Evin Law was won in the French High-Court.

Background to the Evin Law in France

The Evin Law is implemented in France since 1991. Before the Evin Law, the French alcohol advertising laws discriminated against foreign products, which led the Scotch whisky producers took the French Government to European Court of Justice, who condemned the French government and asked to change the law in 1980. While a first law was passed in 1985, the government did not produce a satisfactory text till 1991. The alcohol industry heavily exploited this time period with an avalanche of advertising which led the government to implement the clear and highly effective Evin Law.

The alcohol industry likely never expected their own lobbying and litigation would result in actually improving alcohol marketing laws in France, considering the pervasive alcohol norm in the country.

Ever since the adoption of the Evin Law, the alcohol industry has attempted to undermine, derail and destroy the alcohol marketing regulations. For example in 2019, another political struggle erupted over the ‘Loi Evin’. The health minister of France wanted the ‘Loi Evin’ extended while a group of 105 MPs of the ruling party proposed relaxing the law, apparently on behalf of the alcohol industry.

How the Evin Law works

The articles relating to alcohol in the ‘Loi Evin’ can be summarised in the following way:

A clear definition of alcoholic beverages is given:

  • All alcoholic drinks over 1.2% alcohol by volume are considered alcoholic beverages.
  • Places and media where advertising is authorised are defined.
  • No alcohol advertising should target young people;
  • No alcohol advertising is allowed on television or in cinemas;
  • No alcohol sponsorship of cultural or sport events is permitted.

Alcohol advertising is permitted only in the press for adults, on billboards, on radio channels (under precise conditions), at special events or places such as wine fairs or wine museums. When advertising is permitted, its content is regulated:

  1. Messages and images should refer only to the qualities of the products such as degree, origin, composition, means of production, patterns of consumption;
  2. A health message must be included on each advertisement, such as “l’abus d’alcool est dangereux pour la santé” (the abuse of alcohol is dangerous for health).

The Association Nationale de Prévention en Alcoologie et Addictologie (ANPAA) has been working in France to make sure the Evin Law is upheld and to take action against breaches of the law. ANPAA for example monitors Big Alcohol’s attempt to attack the current alcohol marketing laws and works to protect the evidence-based and successful Evin Law.

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