"Quoi, just two glasses?" Asked the headline on the English page of the rolling news channel France 24.
It was the disbelieving response to a campaign that French health officials had launched this week to the public Do not drink more than two glasses of wine per day – and not every day.
According to Santé Publique France, nearly a quarter of French adults regularly drink too much alcohol, and that alcohol consumption causes 41,000 deaths each year, making it the second leading cause of death in the country after smoking.
"There are about 10.5 million adults who drink too much. In any case, they drink in amounts that increase the risk to their health, including cancer, high blood pressure, cerebral hemorrhage and cardiovascular disease, "said Viet Nguyen-Thanh, head of Santé Publique France Languedoc AC Winzer, criticizing the campaign. "This type of advertising campaign is upsetting the moderate consumer," he told La Depeche. "For us, these studies just make consumers feel guilty."
The French have a complicated history of wine that is considered an integral part of their national heritage. A health campaign in the 1950s called for the public to consume and drink less than one liter of alcohol per meal. School canteens could serve half a liter of wine, cider or beer to students under the age of 14 until 1956. In 1981, alcohol was banned from schools.
"It's part of French history. The fact that France is a wine producer has certainly played a role when it comes to the French and their relationship to wine. "Nugyen-Thanh added
For some, wine is not even real alcohol." Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume recently said, "Wine is not alcohol like the others."
It was a real problem among French youth He admitted, "But I've never seen it before … Knowing … a boy who left a nightclub drunk because he drank Côtes-du-Rhône, Crozes-Hermitage or Costières-de-Nîmes. "
Health Minister Agnès Buzyn responded with severe censure:" The alcohol molecule in wine is exactly the same as any alcoholic beverage. "
World Health Organization figures show that the French are far from the strongest drinkers in Europe. They have an average annual consumption per person of 12.6 liters of pure alcohol among people over the age of 15, behind Lithuania's 15 liters, Germany's 13.4 liters, Ireland and Luxembourg's 13 liters each and Latvia's 12.9 liters. In the UK, 11.5 liters per person are consumed annually. Wine accounts for 58% of the alcohol consumed in France.
Santé Publique France recommends a maximum of 10 glasses of alcohol, including wine per week. However, the size of the glass is not set.