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Old 17-11-2003, 12:30 AM
John W
 
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Default Wine Industry Urges Drinking and Driving

The French are third rate losers. I'd never purchase a bottle of French
wine.
"tdalton" wrote in message
...
November 15, 2003
Wine Industry Urges Drinking and Driving
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


PARIS (AP) -- France's wine industry wants drivers to know: It's OK to
have a drink for the road. Or three. The $18 billion-a-year wine
industry is fighting back against a government campaign to discourage
drunken driving.

It claims the government is scaring people away from ordering a glass
when they go out and points to a 15 percent drop in wine sales at
restaurants.

``People are so afraid of the police these days that they're not
drinking any wine at all,'' Pascal Bobillier-Monnot, director of CNAOC
national wine producers' association, said Friday.

Wine makers have always promoted moderate drinking to comply with the
country's blood-alcohol limit of .05. But they say the government is
overreacting when it tells drivers that the safest way to stay out of
trouble is not to drink at all.

``We believe the government has a duty of providing information which
it has failed,'' said Pascal Rousseaux, director of Afivin, an
umbrella group for wine producers, distributors and retailers.

Diners should know they can enjoy ``two or three glasses'' with their
meal and still be fit to drive, Rousseaux said.

Since taking office last year, the center-right government of French
Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has made road safety a priority.
Police have stepped up checks and toughened punishment.

The government says road deaths fell more than 20 percent to under
5,000 in the first ten months of 2003 from the same period last year
-- still among the highest rates in Europe relative to population
size.

Amid the tightened enforcement and government warnings, sales of wine
in restaurants have also fallen by about 15 percent in just months,
wine producers say.

``There's no question about it. The enforcement effort and the
government's rhetoric have led to a drop in wine consumption in
France,'' Bobillier-Monnot said.

Industry groups are planning their own campaign to persuade motorists
that abstaining isn't necessarily the answer. Afivin plans a $350,000
initiative to distribute alcohol breath tests to restaurants across
France starting next year.

By doing so, it hopes to convince those motorists who have stopped
drinking altogether that they don't need to be quite so worried.

Transport ministry spokeswoman Emmanuelle Dormond defended the
government's stance.

``In case of doubt the easiest way to be sure you don't break the
limit is to refrain from drinking,'' she said.

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