Court Overturns Swedish Ban on Alcohol Ads

07 February 2003

A 24-year-old ban on alcohol press advertising in Sweden has been overturned by an appeals court.

The Market Court – the nation’s highest court of appeal – upheld the ruling of a lower court that the ban was too intrusive a way to safeguard public health.

Such legal wrangling follows a declaration by the European Court of Justice that the veto was unfair, as it would impede non-Swedish publications entering the market. However, the ECJ said it was up to courts in Sweden to determine the fate of the ad ban.

The original judicial ruling last March was that the law went too far and was in any case not effective, as only Swedish media were bound by it. Foreign media, such as the internet, have no such restrictions and expose Swedes to drink ads.

The government’s Consumer Ombudsman tried in vain to retain the ban, which outlawed advertising for all alcoholic drinks except light beer. “From the [Ombudsman’s] point of view, we believe that the public health aspect is very important and we therefore regret the decision.”

However, the state agency stressed that the ruling applies only to magazines and newspapers, as broadcast media are governed by different regulations.

Data sourced from: Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff