FRANCE: Leaked proposal reveals plan to curb online alcohol sales
Online wine marketing and sales in France could be severely restricted under a radical proposal drawn up to protect young people from alcohol abuse, according to documents leaked to just-drinks.
Under the proposal, set to go before the French government in the coming weeks, industry lobbyists say wine merchants and producers might only be able to advertise on their own websites and even be restricted to placing ads between 2200 and 0600 hours. Pop-ups and e-mail alerts could also be forbidden.
Wine industry officials leaked details of the plan to several journalists, including just-drinks, today (24 July) in an attempt to scupper what they say is an unjustified attack by France's anti-alcohol lobby.
The proposal is set to be the official recommendation of a committee composing both industry and non-industry members, established to update France's Loi Evin, which regulates alcohol marketing. But industry members say they have not been consulted on the plan, which is now due to be sent to ministers by committee leader professor Antoine Louvaris.
"There has not even been a proper meeting with people to discuss their positions on this," said Julien Pichoff, who has helped to set up a new association called Vin & Internet to fight the proposals. "There is almost a climate of prohibition," he told just-drinks, adding: "This shows how out-dated their understanding of the internet is."
Tension over alcohol marketing has been brewing in France for several months. Earlier this year, Heineken was forced to suspend its French website after the National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction (ANPAA) successfully argued in a Paris court that some of the brewer's online promotions were illegal under the Loi Evin. The ruling exposed a loophole in the law, which was created in 1991 and so did not include any clauses on internet promotion.
Pichoff said that if the new proposal were to become law, "the vast majority of online wine merchants in France may go out of business within 12-18 months". He said: "How can you say that by killing wine online you can save an alcoholic?"
Those campaigning against alcohol abuse say restricted online marketing is needed to help prevent alcohol misuse among young people.
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