U.K. Junk-Food-Ad Ban Expands Beyond TV

Self-Regulatory Body for Nonbroadcast Media Issues Its Own Set of Rules

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- The recent U.K. ban on TV junk-food ads aimed at children younger than 16 will be extended to magazines, the internet, newspapers, billboards and cinema.

Restrictions from the Committee on Advertising Practice go into effect July 1 and apply to all food and drinks except fresh fruit and vegetables.

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The Committee on Advertising Practice, the industry's self-regulatory body for nonbroadcast media, has issued its own set of rules that covers all food and drinks except fresh fruit and vegetables.

Marina Palomba, legal director of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the U.K.'s ad-agency association, has been outspoken in her defense of the advertising industry. "The rules go further than those for television commercials and sponsorship," she said. "As such, they ought to be welcomed by those critical of advertising as the alleged, albeit unsubstantiated, cause of obesity."

Different restrictions
The CAP rules reject the watchdog Food Standards Agency's definition of junk food for TV advertising. Instead of using the FSA's stringent fat, salt and sugar measurements, the CAP is applying its own restrictions, and only fresh fruit and vegetables will be spared.

According to the rules, ads should not "condone or encourage poor nutritional habits or an unhealthy lifestyle in children," "encourage excessive consumption of food or drink products" or "give a misleading impression of the nutritional health benefits of the product."

Other CAP rules cover irresponsible promotional offers, hard-sell techniques, and licensed characters and celebrities.

Striking a balance
CAP Chairman Andrew Brown said in a statement: "These comprehensive new rules are designed to help protect children's health while still allowing advertisers an appropriate degree of freedom to promote their products."

The nonbroadcast rules come on the heels of government regulator Ofcom's code for TV advertising. All restrictions will come into force on July 1.
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