New bill proposes pre-9pm junk food ad ban

The Government will come under more pressure to introduce a total ban on advertising “junk” food on TV before 9pm today (December 4) with the introduction of a new private members bill.

The bill, tabled by Labour MP Nigel Griffiths, proposes an outright ban on TV advertising before 9pm and further restrictions on non-broadcast advertising. It is backed by a number of health and consumer groups including Which?, Sustain and the British Heart Foundation.

It comes after research carried out by Which? claimed that 18 out of 20 shows most watched by children aged under 16 years old will not be covered by the new advertising rules being introduced in January. The current rules ban foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) before 9pm.

Griffiths says there is “no single solution” but adds that tougher restrictions on promotion are essential. He adds: “If children are not exposed to sophisticated ads for unhealthy foods, parents will find it easier to encourage healthy eating and the whole country will benefit.

Advertisers have criticised the “health and so-called consumer groups” for refusing “to work with the industry to find as solution. Ian Twinn, director of public affairs for the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers, adds: “There are no quick fixes and anyone who advocates one is misleading the public.”

In February, Baroness Thornton introduced a private members bill also proposed a 9pm watershed. It received a second reading but did not progress any further. Former Labour MP Debra Shipley also introduced her Children’s Food Bill, which proposed a ban of on food advertising to pre-school children, twice.