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Visiting France

French MPs amend law on wine advertising

media Santé! - a flight of glasses for a red wine tasting Wikimedia commons

French MPs have sneaked an amendment making it easier to "give information" about wine into the Socialist government's latest economic package. The change to Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron's employment bill pleased winemakers but angered health professionals with the move.

A parliamentary committee examining the Macron bill made a number of changes but one has grabbed headlines.

It changed a 25-year-old law limiting the promotion of alcohol to make it legal to "inform" the public about wine, arguing that the country's viticulture is one of its key attractions for tourists and foreign buyers.

The amendment's supporters, many of whom represent wine-growing regions, argue that it makes a distinction between "information" and "advertising".

The Evin law did not ban advertising alcoholic products but did limit its representation in the media.

That was "a kind of fundamentalism", according to Senator Gérard César of the right-wing Républicains, formerly the UMP.

It prevents the danger of prosecution of journalists, filmmakers or novelists to refer to "viticultural products", Socialist Gilles Savary, who represents a constituency in the Bordeaux area, argued.

Winemakers welcomed the move but Health Minister Marisol Touraine was furious, calling the move a "heavy blow for public health".

About 15 health campaign groups declared they were "outraged", accusing the "alcohol lobby" of rendering the Evin law inoperable.

And the French anti-cancer institute, Inca, slammed it, too, referring to the "serious danger to public health arising from the link between alcohol and cancer and the impact of advertising on the consumption of alcohol".

Alcohol is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths a year in France.

The bill has yet to be passed and opponents of the move have sworn to strike it out of the final draught.

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