The government is set to implement strict rules on the advertising and sale of junk food in the UK, with restrictions such as banning online ads and TV commercials ahead of the 9pm TV turn .
Sources say the plans, which were led by Boris Johnson following his fear of coronaviruses, are not yet finalized but could be announced as early as Sunday or early next week.
Measures to tackle the growing obesity epidemic are expected to have far-reaching reach, going beyond restrictions on media and advertising to include restrictions on in-store promotions.
Johnson had previously criticized the sugar tax, calling it a ‘stealth tax for sin’, but he appears to have changed his mind after being hospitalized with Covid-19 in April. The Prime Minister would blame his own weight problems for contributing to his illness and obesity has been identified as a key factor in determining whether people are severely affected by the coronavirus.
TV broadcasters have previously said a pre-watershed ban on advertising of products high in fat, salt and sugar, commonly known as junk food, will cost them more than £ 200million in revenue a year.
“Brands have established an effective partnership with the government during the lockdown period to support, develop and amplify public health campaigns as well as protect and support employees,” said Phil Smith, Managing Director of ISBA, who represents the vast majority of major advertisers in UK. . “Just as businesses are starting to chart a course to recover from the severe impacts of Covid-19, such a poorly thought out policy is slipping through the Treasury’s efforts to support the sector and putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.”
Media companies and the food industry have faced the prospect of comprehensive government advertising bans on several occasions in over a decade, but in each case the plans were scrapped. However, this time around, leaders are concerned that such measures will be introduced, with Johnson declaring last month that “we will be happier, fitter and more disease resistant like Covid if we can fight obesity.”
The UK has the highest coronavirus death rate in Europe, with high rates of obesity and lifestyle conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, linked to de worst results for Covid-19.
Previous reviews of UK regulations have resulted in a significant tightening of restrictions over the years. In 2007, advertisers were banned from running junk food ads in children’s programs or shows with an average audience greater than 20% of children. More recently, new online marketing rules prevent advertisers from targeting children.
Advertisers say these sweeping rules will go far beyond just capturing big brands and will significantly affect thousands of small businesses as well.
“Speculation that the government intends to introduce bans on high fat, salt and sugar advertising would directly conflict with its own evidence that such restrictions would have minimal impact on levels. obesity, ”said Stephen Woodford, CEO of the Advertising Association. “These measures, if introduced, would have a significant economic impact at a time when the economy is already under strain. The government must reconsider any proposal that could harm the recovery. “