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EU Won’t Ban Alcohol Ads at Events

January 14, 1998

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Tobacco is on the way out as a financial lifeline for European sports. Alcohol advertising is a different story.

Following an eight-year battle to outlaw tobacco advertising at sports events, the European Union said Wednesday it had no plans to get into another such fight any time soon.

``There is no intention ... to propose a ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports events or alcohol advertising,″ said Barbara Nolan, spokeswoman for EU Health Commissioner Padraig Flynn, the force in removing tobacco companies as sports sponsors.

France is the only EU nation to have a full ban on alcohol sponsorship. Britain’s Guardian newspaper said Wednesday there are plans to extend the French law. That would hit Britain especially hard since soccer and rugby receive widespread backing from alcohol companies.

But Nolan said there was no compelling health reason to bar alcohol advertising.

``Tobacco in every circumstance is bad for you and those around you,″ she said. ``There is considerable evidence that alcohol consumed in moderate quantities is not harmful and may even be good for your health.″

Nolan added that France has not called for any EU ban on alcohol sponsorship of sports events.

Overriding objections from Formula One organizers, the 15 EU nations voted last month to outlaw most tobacco advertising within four years and gave cigarette makers until 2006 to end their sponsorship of major sports and cultural events.

Jacques Rogge, head of the European Olympic Committees, said sports organizers depend less on alcohol sponsors than they do on tobacco sponsors. He added that sports like soccer could easily find other sponsors.

``It is not a problem on the same scale,″ he told The Associated Press.

Last month, Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch sold its World Cup billboard rights after it was unable to obtain an exception to the French ban.

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