Liberal Democrats’ manifesto features pledge to introduce pre-watershed ban on junk food ads

With the prospect of another coalition government likely, the Lib Dems, who could possibly form one with either Labour or the Conservatives, say they will push to restrict pre-9pm advertising of unhealthy food and drink products.

Its party manifesto, which was released today (15 April), also features a promise to clamp down on e-cigarette advertising and to further encourage the traffic light system on food packaging to make sugar and fat content more obvious to consumers.

The several advertising pledges could very well be impactful to marketers, with Britain’s current third biggest party (based on MP numbers) likely to have the chance to form another coalition government post-7 May.

If it were to with Labour, the likelihood of a government-backed vote for a pre-watershed ban on junk food ads would be high, with shadow health minister Andy Burnham previously expressing his support of the idea.

“We will restrict the marketing of junk food to children, including restricting TV advertising before the 9pm watershed, and maintain the effective ‘Five a Day’ campaign,” reads the Lib Dem manifesto.

“We will also carefully monitor the growing evidence base around electronic cigarettes, which appear to be a route by which many people are quitting tobacco, and ensure restrictions on marketing and use are proportionate and evidence-based. For example, we support restrictions on advertising which risks promoting tobacco or targets under 18s, such as those introduced in 2014, but would rule out a statutory ban on ‘vaping’ in public places.”

The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to complete the introduction of plain packaging for tobacco products, while committing to a tax levy on tobacco firms so they ‘fairly contribute to the costs of health care and smoking cessation services.’

And the party will also push for the introduction of minimum unit pricing on alcohol in order to curb binge drinking and the cheap booze on sale at Britain’s supermarkets.

So far, each of the main three political party manifestos have focused on targeting junk food marketing.

Yesterday’s Conservative manifesto pledged to introduce ‘clearer food information’ in a bid to ease the financial strain of obesity on the NHS.

On Monday, Labour, meanwhile, committed to reducing the levels of sugar, salt and fat in foods that are ‘marketed substantially to children’ if it is to be voted to form the UK’s next government.

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  • Pete Austin 15 Apr 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Tobacco smugglers will be delighted. Also I thought the obesity epidemic was now thought to be due to successive governments’ advice to cut fat – leading people to switch to so-called “healthy” foods that are very high in sugar.

    • Zachariah 16 Apr 2015 at 4:25 pm

      The obesity epidemic has been caused by various factors. Attributing it to one piece of government advice is farcical. The main problem is a lack of exercise as most people work in office jobs sitting on a chair and do not make time or don’t have time to do enough physical activity to keep their weight healthy.

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