Cabinet split on television junk food advertising ban

LONDON - The Cabinet is split over whether the government should ban TV ads for junk food aimed at children.

Tessa Jowell, the culture secretary, wants ministers to consider a ban but the health secretary, John Reid, is opposing the idea, saying that such intervention would leave Labour open to the charge of creating a "nanny state".

Ofcom is expected to issue a tougher code for food ads this summer but ministers are discussing whether to go further by outlawing ads at peak viewing times for children in their drive to reduce obesity.

According to Whitehall sources, Reid has kicked the question of a ban into touch by setting up a consultation exercise on the "state of the nation's health", which will delay crucial decisions until a White Paper later this year.

The health secretary said the review would consider "how far it is the business of government to regulate the advertising of food and drink" and what contribution advertisers, the food industry and retailers could make.

Reid said: "We need a big debate about the relative roles of government, individuals and industries in tackling this challenge. We need to find the right balance, rejecting the nanny state and the Pontius Pilate state which washes its hands of its citizens' health."

The ad industry, which opposes a ban, will welcome Reid's approach. Andrew Brown, the director-general of the Advertising Association, took part in a public debate on food promotion and children staged by the Food Standards Agency last week. He was encouraged that there was relatively little pressure from the 500-strong audience for TV ads to be outlawed.

Although the FSA is considering calling for a ban, Brown said there was an acceptance the obesity issue had to be tackled on several fronts - including better education, ensuring children took exercise and involving their parents. "It is important that food and drink advertising becomes part of the solution rather than in the dock all the time," he said.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.

Become a member of Campaign from just £46 a quarter

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to campaignlive.co.uk ,plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now

Partner content

Share

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).