The Evin Law
What is the Evin Law?
Introduced in 1991, the Loi Evin intended to regulate alcohol advertising. The terms of the law can be summarised as:
• no advertising should be targeted at young people
• all drinks over 1.2 per cent alcohol by volume are considered as alcoholic beverages. Places and media where advertising is authorised are defined (and this is the problem today, as the internet was not mentioned explicitly in the allowable media)
• no advertising is allowed on television or in cinemas
• no sponsorship of cultural or sport events is permitted
• advertising is permitted only in the press for adults, on billboards2, on radio channels (under precise conditions), at special events or places such as wine fairs, wine museums. When advertising is permitted, its content is controlled
• messages and images should refer only to the qualities of the products such as degree, origin, composition, means of production, patterns of consumption
• a health message must be included on each advertisement to the effect that ”l’abus d’alcool est dangereux pour la santé“ : alcohol abuse is dangerous for health.
Why is this so often in the news today?
Things have got far stricter over the past few years, to the point that the French are self-censoring more and more to avoid potential prosection.
What examples are there of this?
In 2012, a tv channel aimed entirely at wine broadcasting was stalled repeatedly due to concerns over the Evin Law.
In February 2008, the Paris appeals court sustained a ruling made on 8 January 2008 in which a court ruled that beer producer Heineken must remove all advertising from its French website within three weeks, or face fines of €3,000 per day. The judge in the case, Louis-Marie Raingeard de la Blétière, found that as the internet was not named in the original list of media allowed to promote alcohol it could not do so. This followed on from a Paris county court ruling in December 2007 that an editorial piece in Le Parisien newspaper entitled 'The Triumph of Champagne' could be constituted as advertising even if page space had not been sold. The newspaper was fined in January 2008.
Why is the internet not included on the list of allowable media?
The internet was not fully developed in 1991 when the law was passed, and although the law was modified in 2005, the internet was still not mentioned in the revised law, its status remains. This means it is by omission illegal to advertise wine online in France.
What is happening now?
Companies are now unwilling to risk prosecution – especially where the internet is concerned.
Orange France has banned any advertising on its websites from wine companies, and Camus Cognac refuses admission to its website from any servers it detects coming from within France.
Now magazines and newspapers routinely follow articles about wine with the government health warning on alcohol abuse.
A television channel recently used the same health warning before showing the documentary film about the wine industry, Mondovino.
The Post Office recently refused the request of a restaurateur in the Gers, Christophe Termote of L'Auberge d'Astarac, for personalised stamps because they depicted a bunch of grapes and a person seeming to drink from a glass.
And the magazine Paris Match felt the need for the health warning before an article on the International Festival of Wine and Books in Saumur. The article was illustrated with a wine glass etched with the logo of the festival.
Other countries are taking notice also. , owned by Pernod Ricard, bans visitors from France – along with Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
Wine writer Jacques Dupont wrote in Le Point in September 2008, 'How can we on the one hand celebrate our fine wines, and then treat those who produce them like drug dealers?'