A loophole in a new law could spell the “death” of France’s high-impact and cost-effective regulation of alcohol advertising, with potentially causing an increase in alcohol-related deaths and diseases.
Claude Evin, a doctor who sponsored what is known around the world as the Loi Evin (Evin Law) in 1991 in order to better regulate alcohol and tobacco advertising across France, said the new amendment tabled in French parliament this week would allow the alcohol industry to advertise their products almost limitlessly.
The Evin law stipulates strict control over messages and images relating to alcohol products over 1.2% alcohol by volume. It states that
- Advertising should not be targeted at young people,
- Advertising is neither allowed on television nor in cinemas and,
- No sponsorship of cultural or sports events is permitted.
“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,” Mr Evin warned in the French daily La Parisien.
The amendment has been discreetly drawn up by Gérard César, a French senator and former wine maker, and inserted into a wide-ranging economic reform bill.
The amendment states that anyone filing a complaint against a particular advertisement must prove that the person promoting the product has a personal “interest” in doing so, and this “communications operation is susceptible to be perceived by a consumer with an average attention-span”.
Mr Evin said the mealy-worded text was a stealthy way of killing off any restrictions for advertising alcohol.
“Given that alcohol kills 50,000 people per year (in France), can we laud its merits as if we were talking about a simple perfume? The answer, of course, is no.”
It is evident that the aggressive and powerful alcohol industry, including their allies within the advertising industry, is working to erode, undermine and do away with evidence-based, cost-effective and high-impact measures that help reduce and prevent alcohol harm. In France, alcohol is the second leading cause of death. Alcohol use disorder and addiction is a problem on the increase.
For further reading: The ‘Loi Evin’: A French Exception