Italy: Advertising And Marketing Of Alcohol (As Per September 2011)

Last Updated: 1 March 2012
Article by Felix Hofer

What are the main legal controls on advertising and marketing of alcohol in your jurisdiction?

Local legislation considers as "alcoholic" beverages with alcoholic content exceeding 1,2º and as "super-alcoholics" those with more than 21 per cent of alcohol in volume. All commercial communication relating to such products is subject to a range of restrictions set both, by Italian Statute Law as well as by Industry Self-Regulation.

In general terms, advertising and marketing of alcohol will have to comply with the domestic provisions governing the promotion and the selling of food and beverages (as laid down in Law no. 283 of 1962, specifically in Article 13) and with the local regulations implementing the EU Directives on labelling and advertising of food products (Legislative Decree no. 109 of January 27th, 1992, Article 2). Additional relevant requirements and prescriptions may be found in the Italian Consumer Code (Legislative Decree no. 206 of 2005).

Specifically the topic is subject to the restrictions set by Law no. 125 of March 30th, 2001 (a general policy law meant to prevent addiction and to favour rehabilitation).

What are the main regulatory controls on advertising and marketing of alcohol in your jurisdiction?

The Italian legal framework assigns control functions to a special Authority (AGCM = Commissioner for Market and Fair Competition) which is called to react – either ex officio or on complaint of an interested subject – against illicit comparative or misleading advertising and is entitled: to issue cease injunctions (in order to stop illegal campaigns), to apply fines (from Euro 5.000 up to Euro 500.000), to suspend offenders from business and to provide both, for public announcement of violations sanctioned as well as for corrective advertising.

When the questioned commercial communication is performed through particular media (such as TV, Radio or Press), another Authority (AGCOM = the Communication Commissioner) will become involved. It has competence as to issuing regulations and guidelines for advertising diffused via such media.

The Institute for Advertising Self-Regulation (IAP) administers the Code of Marketing Communication Self-Regulation (CAP) which sets general principles and specific requirements for advertising and marketing of alcoholic beverages.

What are the main principles of alcohol advertising regulation in your jurisdiction?

(a) Law no. 283 of 1962 requires all advertising for food products to be correct, transparent, truthful and not misleading. In addition, Legislative Decree no. 109 of 1992 (implementing the EU Directives nos. 89/395 and 89/396), while confirming such requirements, also calls for proper and correct consumer information with respect to labelling and advertising of alcoholic beverages.

(b) Since July 30th, 2008 Ministerial Decree, jointly issued by the State Departments for Labour, Public Health and Welfare, obliges the owners of entertainment premises to properly inform their customers about beverages' alcoholic content (this also with the aim of allowing them adequate control on compliance with the restrictions set by the local Traffic Code on "drink and drive").

(c) The 'Consumer Code' (Legislative Decree no. 206 of 2005, implementing EU Directive no. 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices) considers as unfair and misleading a commercial practice, which omits to provide – when relating to products potentially harmful to consumers' safety or health – adequate information and therefore induces consumers to ignore risks or ordinary rules of caution.

(d) Law no. 125 of 2001 already did provide for specific limitations with respect to TV and Radio advertising of alcoholic beverages. According to Article 13 advertising for alcoholic and 'super-alcoholic' drinks (i. e. those with a high grade of alcoholic content as most of the spirits) was totally banned:

  • during TV programs for children as well as during the 15 minutes preceding and following the broadcasting of such programs,
  • when claiming (without an explicit approval of the State Department for Public Health) therapeutic benefits deriving from alcoholic beverages,
  • when showing children consuming alcoholic drinks or suggesting to consider such use as a positive attitude,
  • advertising (both direct as well as indirect) of alcoholic beverages may not be performed in places primarily attended by children,
  • commercial communication for high grade alcoholics is banned during programs aired on TV/Radio (from 4 to 7 pm).
  • such advertising is also not allowed in the press (for publications mainly targeted to children) as well as at cinemas running movies specifically directed to an audience of children.

(e) Nowadays the issue is dealt with by the "Consolidated Act on Audio-Visual and Broadcasting Services" (Legislative Decree no. 177 of 2005), recently amended (through Legislative Decree no. 44 of 2010) in the context of the domestic implementation of the EU Directive on Audio-Visual Media Services.

The Act puts a special focus on commercial communication performed via audio-visual media services and sets the general principles and criteria to be observed for such communication. Article 36-bis requires commercial communication:

  • not to encourage conduct likely to cause harm to safety or health,
  • when referring to alcoholic beverages, not to target and address specifically minors of age or encourage excessive consumption of such beverages.

Furthermore Article 37 sets that commercials meant to advertise alcoholic beverages:

  • may not expressly target minors and may not present them while consuming such beverages,
  • may not establish any connection between consumption of alcoholics and physical strength or car driving,
  • have to strictly avoid any suggestion that consumption of alcoholics contributes to social or sexual success,
  • must restrain from associating alcoholic beverages with therapeutic, stimulating, relaxing effects and from suggesting their capacity of resolving psychological conflicts,
  • must not encourage uncontrolled or excessive consumption of alcoholics and must not present abstinence or sobriety in a negative light,
  • must restrain from associating indications about the beverage's alcoholic content with positive qualities of an alcoholic product.

(f) The Code of Marketing Communication Self-Regulation explicitly states (see Article 22) that advertising of alcoholic drinks shall not be targeted, albeit indirectly, to minors and must not:

  • " - encourage the excessive, uncontrolled, and hence damaging consumption of alcoholic beverages,
  • depict situations suggesting either an unhealthy attachment or an addiction to alcohol, or the belief that resorting to alcohol can solve personal problems,
  • target or refer to minors even only indirectly, or depict minors consuming alcohol,
  • associate the consumption of alcoholic beverages with the driving of motorized vehicles,
  • lead the public to believe that the consumption of alcoholic beverages promotes clearness of mind and enhances physical and sexual performance, or that the failure to consume alcohol implies physical, mental or social inferiority,
  • depict sobriety and abstemiousness as a negative value,
  • induce the public to disregard the different drinking styles associated with the specific characteristics of individual beverages, and to ignore the personal conditions of the consumer,
  • stress the alcoholic strength of a beverage as the main theme of the advertisements".

(g) On March 16th, 2007 the Sate Departments for Home Affairs and for Sports and Youth have jointly reached an agreement with some of the particularly involved Trade Associations (e. g. those of the local producers or importers of beer, wine or spirits, of the entertainment industry, of the barmen) on promoting a special Ethic Code, which in the following was also adopted by other interested associations (e. g. that of the driving schools) as well as by Town Councils.

Such Ethic Code is aimed at:

  • promoting responsible drinking and driving both, in general as well as through periodic educational/informational campaigns (targeting especially young people),
  • favouring certain restrictions on sales of alcoholic beverages in entertainment premises (also if performed through vending machines),
  • convincing customers, when leaving premises open to the general public, to spontaneously undergo quick tests and inviting those showing excessive alcohol consumption to restrain from driving,
  • offering special benefits (as free access or reduced tickets, one free non-alcoholic drink, etc. ) to the so-called 'designated driver' (i. e. one person volunteering to not consume alcoholics during the entire stay) of a group entering an entertainment premise,
  • increasing control in order to prevent sales of alcoholic beverages to minors of age,
  • excluding discount (or below-the-cost) promotions with respect to alcoholic drinks.

(h) Audio- and Videotex services: According to Ministerial Decree no. 385 of 1995 such "services and information should be directed, as a rule, to people older then 18 years" and "are not allowed to stimulate the use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products ...". These provisions were repealed by Ministerial Decree no. 145 of March 2nd, 2006, which introduced a broader regulation now governing all services, provided by means of electronic communication and involving for users additional costs/payments; the regulation includes services provided through SMS, MMS, dial-up systems and interactive digital TV. Article 3 of the Decree explicitly sets that such services may not induce the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

How would you assess the pressure for tighter regulation in your jurisdiction?

As far as the institutions of the EU are concerned it appears that Directorate General for Health & Consumers is monitoring the problem of alcohol related harm and is trying to achieve standards of good practices and written alcohol policies. A progress report of such efforts is due in 2012. Despite huge efforts and pressure performed by interested stakeholders such as Eurocare - The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (a network of some 50 voluntary and non governmental organisations promoting the ELSA project, i. e. 'Enforcement of national Laws and Self-regulation on advertising and marketing of Alcohol'), additional harmonized legislation and new regulations as to alcohol advertising don't seem to be on the horizon in a near future.

I also don't foresee that in Italy the issue will be addressed by new provisions.

Please describe any recent interesting, significant, or archetypal examples of an alcohol advertisement that has been banned in your jurisdiction.

(i) The Review Board of the local Institute for Advertising Self-Regulation in 2010 questioned and halted TV commercials through which female models promoted a wine brand with slogans such as: "I drink wine X with my hip hop trainer, because when we're alone the music changes", "I drink my wine X with my guitar player, because he knows how to touch the right strings", "Whom are you drinking your wine X with?" In the Board's view the commercials infringed on Article 22 of the Code, which requires alcohol advertising "not to be in contrast with the obligation to depict styles of drinking behaviour that project moderation, wholesomeness and responsibility" and to avoid encouraging "the belief that the consumption of alcoholic beverages promotes clear thinking and enhances physical and sexual performance". The advertiser challenged the Board's injunction before the Jury, but had his opposition dismissed (through decision no. 45 of May 3rd, 2010). The Jury was not impressed by the warning message "Drink responsibly" in small type.

(ii) In January 2011 the Review Board forced a local beer producer to change the commercial communication on its website, where a certain brand was promoted by claiming nutritional capacities and health benefits. The messages were considered as misleading and in violation of Article 22 of the Code.

(iii) Through decision no. 128 of June 24th, 2010 the Commissioner for Market and Fair Competition served a broadcasting company with 75.000 Euro fine for airing a commercial for an alcoholic beverage during a 'protected air time period' (from 4:00 to 7:00 pm). The Commissioner applied a 'reduced' fine considering that the commercial had been aired only three times (at 6:57 pm and at 6:59 pm).

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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Felix Hofer
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.