It is not news that the past few years the Uruguayan Government has passed regulation tending to discourage the consumption of tobacco products. Now it's alcoholic beverages' turn, through a bill which intends to, among other things, regulate advertising of alcoholic beverages. The bill was introduced to the Uruguayan Parliament in 2013, however Government spokesmen have stated that the intention is for the regulation to finally pass in 2016.

The Motives

Just like the case of tobacco products, the Government has stated that it is a matter of public health. On the bill's explanatory statement, statistics and numbers regarding the different type of consumers, amount of alcohol consumed and other aspects of the Uruguayan population linked to alcohol consumption are presented.

The latter combined with the fact that nowadays alcohol consumption is considered some sort of epidemic disease in our country are some of the issues upheld to justify the measures to be taken.

Restrictions and Prohibitions on Alcohol Advertising

The bill provides certain parameters that must be adhered to for alcohol advertising, as well as certain prohibitions concerning the same. These are some of the most relevant ones:

  • Statement of prohibition to sell alcohol to minors: Although currently in practice all advertisements of alcoholic beverages already include a legend stating that it is forbidden to sell said products to people under the age of 18 (age of majority in Uruguay), the bill includes the obligation to mention such prohibition in every advertisement in a legible place with a legible size font. In the case of radio or sound advertising the message shall be submitted in sufficient time for proper hearing. The same warning shall be used on all sponsorships by companies whose object is to distribute, market, sell or offer alcoholic beverages.
  • Prohibition to advertise, promote and sponsor alcoholic beverages in unauthorized commercial establishments: Advertising, promotion and sponsorship of alcoholic beverages in commercial establishments that do not have proper authorization to sell or offer the same will be prohibited.
  • Proprietary names: The use of names, trademarks, symbols or other distinctive signs already used to identify an alcoholic beverage and simultaneously other goods or services sold or offered by a single company or group of companies will be prohibited. So will be the use of names, trademarks, symbols or other distinctive signs already used by spirits, to promote the consumption of soft drinks.
  • Prohibitions relating to the advertising of alcoholic beverages: Any advertising linked to the consumption of alcoholic beverages that complies with any of the following will be prohibited:

    a) being addressed to people under the age of eighteen;

    b) using people under the age of eighteen or persons or animations that because of their physiognomic characteristics simulates being under that age, or are of public relevance among those under eighteen;

    c) being issued on programs broadcasted during child protection hours;

    d) suggesting that alcoholic beverages drinking enhances the physical or intellectual performances or possesses therapeutic properties both stimulant and sedative, as well as including behaviors or meanings which express success on the social, professional or sexual fields;

    e) being bound to activities, clothing and/or sporting events of any kind;

    f) promoting irresponsible drinking or offering a negative image as to the abstinence from alcohol and sobriety in people;

    g) using the image of athletes, intellectuals, scientists or other recognized personalities who associate their success or recognition to the consumption of alcoholic beverages;

    h) presenting as beneficial all products that promote low-alcohol beverages;

    i) being made by distributing information by mail, telephone, internet technologies, or e-mail, unless it is intended only for adults aged eighteen years old or more. This prohibition would not apply to advertising that establishments engaged in the sale of food products include on their brochures or mailings, provided they are authorized by the regulator to sell alcoholic beverages;

    j) implying misleading advertising.

  • Prohibitions related to the promotion and sponsorship of alcoholic beverages: Any promotion of alcoholic beverages and sponsoring of business establishments, events and clothing of any kind, made by companies related to the production, distribution, marketing and sale of alcoholic beverages will be prohibited, if it means the publication of that promotion and sponsorship, or dissemination of brands, symbols and images associated with alcohol when they are targeted at people under the age of eighteen and/or carried out in commercial establishments, events and/or activities or shows that allows the presence of people under eighteen.

Given the impact that the abovementioned restrictions may have on the alcohol and advertising industries, we will closely follow the process of analysis and eventual passing of this bill and make note of any relevant development on the subject.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.