French moves against tobacco and alcohol advertising

Ross Denton

A Bill shortly going before the French Senate will prohibit all advertising and 'propaganda' relating to tobacco and alcohol by 1993. Parliamentary debate so far has disregarded the potential role of advertising in switching smokers to new low-tar brands. Also, circumventing the principles of the EEC Treaty, it effectively discriminates in favour of the established brands of SIETA, the state tobacco monopoly. A provision to exclude French wine from the ban may be open to EC challenge. The implications of the French legislation are severe in a wider European context.

The French have a curiously ambiguous attitude to cigarettes and alcohol. Both seem to be an intrinsic part of French culture, yet French politicians consistently wish to regulate their consumption. Unfortunately arguments about regulation inevitably get side-tracked on to the regulation of advertising.