Case 90-283 DC

C. C., n°90-283 DC, 08 January 1991
Download Judgment: English French
Country: France
Region: Europe
Year: 1991
Court: Conseil constitutionnel [Constitutional Council]
Health Topics: Chronic and noncommunicable diseases, Tobacco
Human Rights: Freedom of expression, Right to health, Right to property
Tags: Non-communicable diseases, Smoking, Smoking cessation, Tobacco control, Tobacco regulation

Prior to promulgation, the constitutionality of Articles 3, 4, 10 and 12 of the January 12, 1991 law no. 91-32, Loi relative à la lutte contre le tabagisme et l’alcoolisme (Law relating to the fight against smoking and alcoholism) was challenged in the Conseil Constitutionnel. The law, also known as the “Loi Évin” after its author Claude Évin, was created largely to protect youth consumers from alcohol and tobacco marketing.

  • Article 3 prohibits the direct and indirect advertisement of tobacco products, with the exclusion of regulated advertisements within tobacco stores not visible from outside. It also prohibits the sponsorship and free distribution of tobacco products.
  • Article 4 defines “indirect” advertising. Indirect advertising is defined as any advertising that, although not explicitly depicting a tobacco product, implies the existence of such a product through the presence of a logo, brand name or graphic, or any other means.
  • Article 10 has two parts.  Paragraph IV prohibits all sponsorships that directly or indirectly promote alcoholic beverages and advertisement of alcoholic beverages, with the exception of some radio, magazine and in store advertising. Paragraph V of the law applies the definition of indirect sponsorship from Article 4 to alcoholic beverages.
  • Article 12 creates a tax, (called a “contribution”) on all expenditures on the advertising of alcoholic beverages, the proceeds of which are placed in to a fund supervised by the State Council and the Minister of Health to finance health education and alcohol abuse prevention programs.

1. Does Article 3 of law no. 91-32 violate the right to property (Article 2, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen)?

No. While the right to property as recognized in Article 2 of the Declaration has evolved to include the right to control and use a brand, Article 16 of the Declaration recognizes that a right to property may be subjugated for the sake of public necessity. The “public necessity” exception itself has evolved to include the constitutionally recognized protection of public health (11th paragraph of the Preamble to the 1946 Constitution, guaranteeing to all “the protection of health”).  While Article 3 of law no. 91-32 does limit the use of a brand, it does not revoke the possession of a brand from its owner and still allows for the limited use of a brand for in-store advertising.

2. Does Article 3 of law no. 91-32 abridge the freedom of enterprise?

No.  The freedom of enterprise is neither general nor absolute. While the ability to distribute information about tobacco products is limited, the production, distribution and sale of tobacco is still allowed, and information about tobacco products can still be distributed within tobacco shops. The prohibition of other forms of advertisement is justified by the constitutionally recognized necessity of protecting public health.

3. Does Article 3 of law no. 91-32 violate Articles 1 and 16 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen by denying the right to use one’s surname?

No.  While Article 3 of law no. 91-32 does restrict the use of a surname in commercial enterprise, it does not prevent an individual from using his or her name to identify him or herself and thus does not violate Articles 1 or 16.

4. Does Article 4 of law no. 91-32 violate the right to property (Article 2, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen) or abridge the freedom of enterprise?

No. Article 4 allows for the proper and complete implementation of Article 3, which has already been determined constitutionally sound.

5. Do Paragraphs IV and V of Article 10, law no. 91-32 violate the right to property (Article 2, Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen), abridge the freedom of enterprise, or violate the right to use of one’s surname?

No. Paragraphs IV and V of Article 10 restrict the advertisement of alcohol for sake of public health and are constitutional for the same reasons as Article 3.

6. Does Paragraph IV of Article 10, law no. 91-32 violate the principle of equality?

No. The principle of equality is not violated when the legislature creates different regulations for differing circumstances in pursuit of a constitutionally recognized common good. The distinction between public street advertising and radio and magazine advertising is that it is difficult to control youth exposure to the former form of advertising. As the selective restriction on public street advertising of alcoholic beverages is necessary in order to pursue the legislatures stated aim of reducing youth consumption of alcohol and protecting the public health, it is constitutionally valid.

7. Does Paragraph IV of Article 10, law no. 91-32 extend the control of legislature beyond its proper jurisdiction?

No.  Article 24 of the Constitution maintains that the law is intended to specify the rules concerning the fundamental guarantees given to citizens exercising liberties in the public domain and also determine the fundamental principles at play in the domain of property. Specific regulation by the State Council of the types of alcoholic advertisements allowed does not lie outside of the legislatures realm of competence, as such regulation is necessary in achieving the public health aims of law no. 91-32.

Article 12 was held to be unconstitutional because it did not comply with the constitutional requirements for imposition of at tax.

« Considérant sans doute, que la prohibition de la publicité et de la propagande en faveur du tabac est susceptible d'affecter dans son exercice le droit de propriété d'une marque concernant le tabac ou des produits du tabac;

Mais considérant que ces dispositions trouvent leur fondement dans le principe constitutionnel de protection de la santé publique; qu'au demeurant, la loi réserve la possibilité de faire de la publicité à l'intérieur des débits de tabac; que l'interdiction édictée par l'article 3 de la loi déférée ne produira tous ses effets qu'à compter du 1er janvier 1993;

Considérant qu'il résulte de ce qui précède que la limitation apportée par l'article 3 à certaines modalités d'exercice du droit de propriété n'est pas contraire à la Constitution »

“Considering without a doubt that the prohibition of publicity and propaganda in favour is tobacco is likely to affect the exercise of the right to property of a trademark concerning tobacco or products of tobacco;

But considering that such provisions derive from the constitutional principle of the protection of public health; that even so, the law reserves the possibility to advertise within tobacco shops; that the prohibition provided by article 3 of the deferred law will not produce all its effects until 1 January 1993;

Considering that results from what precedes that the limitation brought upon by article 3 to certain conditions within which the right to property can be exercised is not contrary to the Constitution” Paras. 10, 11 and 12.

« Considérant que la liberté d'entreprendre n'est ni générale ni absolue; qu'il est loisible au législateur d'y apporter des limitations exigées par l'intérêt général à la condition que celles−ci n'aient pas pour conséquence d'en dénaturer la portée;

Considérant que l'article 3 de la loi n'interdit, ni la production, ni la distribution, ni la vente du tabac ou des produits du tabac ; qu'est réservée la possibilité d'informer le consommateur à l'intérieur des débits de tabac; que la prohibition d'autres formes de publicité ou de propagande est fondée sur les exigences de la protection de la santé publique, qui ont valeur constitutionnelle; qu'il suit de là que l'article 3 de la loi ne porte pas à la liberté d'entreprendre une atteinte qui serait contraire à la Constitution »

“Considering that entrepreneurial freedom is neither general nor absolute; that it is open to legislature to impose limitations required by the general interest on the condition that they do not result in jeopardising its scope;

Considering that article 3 of the law does not prohibit nor the production, the distribution or sale of tobacco and tobacco products; that is reserved the possibility to inform the consumer within tobacco shops; that the prohibition of other forms of publicity or propaganda is based on the requirements of the protection of public health, which are of constitutional value; that it therefore follows that article 3 of the law does not infringe upon entrepreneurial freedom in a manner that would be contrary to the Constitution.” Paras. 14 and 15.

« Considérant qu'il résulte de ce qui précède que l'article 12 de la loi déférée doit être déclaré contraire à la Constitution pour des motifs tenant, d'une part, à ce que le législateur est resté en deçà de sa compétence en matière fiscale et, d'autre part, à l'irrégularité de la procédure suivie pour l'adoption de celles de ses dispositions qui relèvent du domaine exclusif d'intervention des lois de finances »

“Considering that results from what precedes that article 12 of the deferred law must be declared contrary to the Constitution on the grounds that, on the one hand, the legislator remained below its jurisdiction in fiscal matters and, on the other hand, the irregularity of the procedure for the adoption of the provisions under the exclusive field of intervention of financial laws.” Para. 47.

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