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Charities call for crackdown on marketing of alcohol and junk food

Alcohol Focus Scotland and Obesity Action Scotland say tougher restrictions are needed to protect children.

Charities have called for more action to protect children from the impact of alcohol and junk food marketing.

Alcohol Focus Scotland (AFS) says alcohol advertising on television and online platforms such as YouTube, alongside other marketing measures, encourages drinking among children and young people.

Obesity Action Scotland (OAS) also says children can be particularly vulnerable to adverts and promotions for crisps, confectionery and fizzy drinks.

The organisations hosted an event in Edinburgh on Wednesday aimed at highlighting the damaging effects of such advertising.

Alison Douglas, AFS chief executive, said: “Alcohol marketing encourages children’s drinking and the current regulatory framework is failing to protect children.

“Exposure to alcohol marketing reduces the age at which young people start to drink, increases the likelihood that they will drink and increases the amount of alcohol they will consume one they have started to drink.”

AFS has previously called for a ban on alcohol advertising from public spaces such as streets, parks, sports grounds and on public transport, the end of alcohol sponsorship of sports, music and cultural events, and restrictions on adverts on TV and social networking sites.

Meanwhile, OAS has pressed Scottish ministers to urgently take forward their plans to restrict the promotion of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt.

The Scottish Government also wants to see the broadcast of TV adverts for unhealthy food banned before the 9pm watershed, although broadcasting powers are reserved to UK ministers.

Lorraine Tulloch, of OAS, said: “The Scottish Government recently committed to tackling the pervasive advertising of junk foods.

“We wish to see this bold commitment taken forward with urgency to help protect our children from the short and long-term health consequences of being overweight.

“Junk food marketing is big business in the UK with over £143 million spent on advertising crisps, confectionery and sugary drinks alone.

“Children are particularly vulnerable to these adverts and have reported wanting to lick the screen or pestering their parents until they get a certain product.”

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: “We’ve been clear that more must be done to protect children from unsuitable advertising.

“That’s why we’ve repeatedly called on the UK Government to ban junk food ads before the 9pm watershed, and if they will not do so ask that powers over this area be devolved so we can act here in Scotland.

“Our draft healthy weight strategy includes bold measures designed to help people make healthier choices and empower personal change along with world leading proposals to restrict the marketing and promotion of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

“We’re currently considering responses to the consultation of the draft strategy to determine how the proposals can be further strengthened.”

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