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Web cannot advertise alcohol: French court on Heineken

The organisation which last week secured a court ruling and a fine against a French newspaper for a Champagne article has secured a ruling against alcohol publicity on the internet.

The Champagne article was deemed to have overly promoted alcohol consumption.

Now the Paris-based National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction (ANPAA), has secured a ruling against Heineken Enterprise, the Dutch-based brewer.

On 8 January 2008, the French court ruled that Heineken must remove all advertising from its French website within three weeks, or face fines of €3,000 per day.

‘This judgement says the internet is not authorised as a publicity vehicle in France,’ said Alain Rigaud of ANPAA, adding this was a message to all producers of alcoholic drinks.

Heineken Enterprise says it will appeal the decision, but refused to comment any further.

Rigaud said it was good that Heineken was appealing. ‘That way we will be able to take this to its logical conclusion,’ he said.

In its case against Heineken, ANPAA said that certain visuals, games and animations on the French website heineken.fr exceed the limitation of French law on alcohol and tobacco advertising.

The 1991 Evin Law, one of the strictest in Europe, is considered by French winemakers to be a major factor in the decline of domestic wine sales.

Heineken, which was one of the official sponsors of the 2007 Rugby World Cup (RWC) held in France last year, has already been taken to court several times by ANPAA over breaches to the law during the World Cup.

Two of the court decisions last September and October forced the brewer to take down outdoor banners and pull ads from newspapers and magazines.

Rigaud says his organisation is currently preparing to tackle the issue of Heineken’s sponsorship of the Heineken Cup rugby series, known as the H Cup in France, currently running in Europe.

Written by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux

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