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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 11:01 GMT
French row over 'wine warnings'
A man sips wine
Wine has fuelled the rise in alcohol sales in the UK
A row has broken out in France over whether wine bottles should carry public health warnings.

A report drawn up for the French Health Ministry recommended that wine should carry labels similar to warnings given on cigarette packets.

Campaigners said alcohol was causing real harm - it is linked to 23,000 deaths in France each year.

But wine makers have reacted angrily, saying it is "ridiculous" to equate drinking and smoking.

The report, drawn up by a panel of experts commissioned by the French government, also called for better training for doctors to detect excessive drinking - one in 10 French people are classed as alcoholics.

You are trying to create an atmosphere of fear
Roland Feredj, from the Bordeaux Wine Trade Council

And it called on former alcoholics to create support networks to help others, while adding there should be a strict application of the law which bans sales of alcohol to under 16s.

But it is the suggestion that wine should carry health warnings in the world's top wine producing nation that has caused most controversy.

France produces a fifth of the wine in the world, although sales have been falling over the last five years as the country's wine makers face competition for New World producers such as Australia and Chile.

Report author Herve Chabalier said it was not about telling people "don't drink, but to inform them about what alcohol really is a drug".

Pregnant

Next year, labels are to be placed on wine bottles warning pregnant women of the dangers of alcohol consumption.

But the report wants the government to go further.

Marie-Christine Tarby from wine industry lobby group, the Vin et Societe, said: "It's ridiculous. This would reduce alcohol to the same as cigarettes, whereas the two are completely different.

"If you drink alcohol in moderation, you face no risks to your health. There are even benefits."

And Roland Feredj, from the Bordeaux Wine Trade Council, said warning labels would not work.

"You are trying to create an atmosphere of fear. But a policy of fear and bans does not work."




SEE ALSO:
Surge in alcohol-related deaths
15 Aug 05 |  England
Alcohol 'as harmful as smoking'
04 Feb 05 |  Health


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