Celebrating la vie en rose
Published:  27 August, 2008

The World Health Organisation says it is a step closer to a global strategy on alcohol which takes into consideration the national circumstances of each country. A revised and expanded mandate will be presented to the World Health Authority in May which requests that the WHO's director-general "collaborate and consult with Member States as well as with intergovernmental organisations, health professionals, non-governmental bodies and economic operators on ways they could contribute to reducing harmful use of alcohol".

The drinks industry is, on the whole, playing its part by being responsible in the way it promotes its products and statistics demonstrate that these efforts are working. However, the anti-alcohol lobbyists are still a real threat to the freedom we presently have, albeit within guidelines, to advertise alcoholic drinks.

In France this month there have been a number of high profile cases of companies falling foul of the country's strict laws regarding alcoholic drinks advertising. France's Evin Law, passed in 1991, requires that messages must only relate to the quality of the product, and drinking scenes are banned. Health warnings are also now compulsory on all ads, just like tobacco.

The cases brought to court by France's National Association for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Addiction included Moët & Chandon's La Nuit en Rose campaign, which ran four years ago, and was a play on words from the French phrase "la vie en rose" - loosely akin to viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles.

I am all in favour of ensuring people are well informed about the undesirable consequences of over-indulgence. But we should never lose sight of the fact that the reason we drink alcohol is because it's sociable, it makes us feel good and - when taken in moderation - it makes the world, and life as a whole, seem a whole lot more rosy.

It is encouraging that different cultures are to be taken into consideration by the health organisations in their recommendations on reducing global alcohol abuse. But let's hope common sense prevails and that the drinks industry is not ultimately banned from advertising its products and responsible drinkers are not deprived of one of life's most enjoyable pastimes.

Pop open the Champagne..