Communications Center launches a new educational message on alcohol advertising in consultation with the sector concerned

Feb 26th '24

The Communication Center, in collaboration with the federations of Belgian Brewers and Vinum Et Spiritus, Comeos, UBA, Horeca Vlaanderen, Horeca Wallonia and Horeca Brussels, is launching a new educational message that should soon appear in commercial communications for alcoholic drinks. The main aim of this important reform is to better inform consumers about the risks of alcohol abuse.


Commercial communications for alcohol are regulated by the “Convention on Advertising and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages”, which already included the obligation to include an educational message when advertising alcoholic beverages.


In consultation with the other signatories of the Covenant, the federations of Belgian Brewers and Vinum Et Spiritus have been working on a new educational message, based on the message that is already used in France and is therefore already known to a large part of the Belgian population:


  • in Dutch: “Alcohol abuse damages health”;
  • in French: “L’abus d’alcool nuit à la santé” ;
  • in German: “Alkoholmissbrauchschadet der Gesundheit”;
  • in English: “Alcohol abuse harms your health”.


This new message, which is clearer, stronger and more effective, has the benefit of better informing consumers about the risks of alcohol abuse.


The communications sector has already been informed of this reform, which will apply from today. In order to make the change of message as efficient and effective as possible, a transition phase has been introduced until June 30, 2024. In concrete terms, this means that the application of the new health notice will be mandatory from July 1, 2024. A specific adjustment period will nevertheless be provided until January 1, 2025 for affected printed commercial communications with the old educational message developed before May 1, 2024.


The Communication Center and the other parties to the Agreement are aware of the importance of responsible alcohol consumption for society and health, as well as the crucial role that our sectors play in ethical communication. Through this initiative, we want to take a proactive stance by helping to tighten the rules for alcohol communication in line with today’s social needs.


In addition, the sector also complies with one of the measures in the Interfederal Plan 2023-2025 to combat harmful alcohol consumption.


The “Agreement on Advertising and Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages”, and a fortiori the commercial communication for alcohol, is subject to strict control by the Jury for Ethical Practices in Advertising (JEP) which acts on the basis of consumer complaints or, in a preventive context, in the context of requests for prior advice from the sector.


The JEP’s decisions may go so far as to require the modification of an advertising message or the cessation of its distribution in the event of a violation of ethical and/or legal provisions. JEP’s decisions are respected by advertisers and, failing that, by the media.


In general, the JEP ensures that the content of advertising messages complies with the rules on advertising, namely legislation and self-regulatory codes, through an independent Jury that is composed equally and representatively. The JEP believes in honest, truthful and socially responsible advertising in which consumers have confidence.


The JEP was founded by the Communication Center, the association that brings together all actors from the Belgian ecosystem (UBA, ACC, Vlaamse Nieuwsmedia, LA, WE MEDIA, AEA, VIA and BAM) to create trust in commercial communication and ensure that responsible advertising is made through self-regulation that guarantees the reliability of advertising. The Communication Center therefore devotes a large part of its resources to the JEP.


Vinum Et Spiritus Association Belgium was founded in 1950 and represents the wine and spirits sector. The members are active in production, distribution, bottling, import and export. From local distilleries and wine estates to specialized liquor stores and wholesale stores. The products they represent are the result of often years of tradition, passion and craftsmanship.


Vzw Belgian Brewers is one of the oldest professional associations in the world and groups almost all breweries in the country. The association’s aim is to inform, support and advise breweries based in Belgium in sector-related dossiers for Belgian beer.


UBA stands for United Brands Association and is the Belgian association of and for brands.


UBA represents the interests of brand builders and its mission is to create a creative, innovative and dynamic eco-system, thus offering space for ambitious brands to grow sustainably.


Comeos represents Belgian trade and services. The members sell to companies or directly to consumers, both in stores and online. They are active in 20 sectors and include small and large businesses, restaurant chains and catering companies. The trade sector generates 11% of GDP and employs 550,000 people, making it the largest employer in the private sector, in contact with millions of people every day.


Source: JEP


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