Feature

Drinking may ‘kill,’ but we love our wine.

The week's news at a glance.

France

Jean-Claude KieferDerniéres Nouvelles d’Alsace

Could you enjoy your wine if it had a big “Drinking Kills” label on it? asked Jean-Claude Kiefer in Strasbourg’s Derniéres Nouvelles d’Alsace. That’s what the E.U. wants. It has launched a “war on alcohol” whose model is the war on tobacco that began 20 years ago. From a statistical viewpoint, it’s a logical step: Alcohol kills around 45,000 people a year in France, just about the same as tobacco. And like smoking, drinking can be a social nuisance. “Still, what hypocrisy!” The E.U. says it wants to discourage smoking, but it subsidizes tobacco farmers to the tune of a billion euros. If it now starts in on drinking, you can be sure it won’t lift the subsidies to farmers who grow hops or grapes. This ambiguity—“on the one side public health needs, on the other economic realities”—is inherent in any campaign against vice. “Wine, beer, and spirits are part of European culture.” It would be as difficult as it would be undesirable to make us give them up. Instead, let’s aim for moderation by publicizing the recommended limits on alcohol consumption: “three glasses per day for a man, and two for a woman.” Cheers!

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