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French wine lobby group warns of anti-alcohol policies

French wine industry lobby group, Vin & Societe, has launched a campaign to force France's Government to listen to its concerns ahead of a new public health bill.

Vin & Societe is concerned that the health bill, due to be drawn up later this year, will propose that wineries should remove messages about drinking in moderation on bottle labels, and state simply that alcohol is dangerous.

The French wine lobby group’s new campaign calls on the country’s president and prime minister, Francois Hollande and Jean-Marc Ayrault respectively, to create an intergovernmental body to oversee any laws that would affect the wine trade.

‘We have spent ten months writing every day to the health minister and we’ve had no answer,’ Vin & Societe’s director general, Audrey Bourolleau, told decanter.com. ‘It’s incredible in a French democracy that the health minister won’t meet with us.

Commenting on the need for a new intergovernmental body, she said, ‘wine is not only a question of health, it’s also about the economy, culture and tourism. Today, all the measures are coming from [the department of] health.’

She said France’s wine industry also remains under threat from politicians who wish to raise taxes on bottles in order to plug a spending hole in the country’s health budget. Tax has already been increased significantly on beer and spirits.

All wine producers in France must also still contend with a debate over updates to the country’s Evin law, which has governed alcohol publicity since 1991.

There is still a possibility that it will become illegal to talk about wine on the internet, Vin & Societe said on its new campaign website, cequivavraimentsaoulerlesfrançais.fr.

Vin & Societe claims to represent 500,000 people working in France’s wine sector.

Written by Chris Mercer

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