The Daily Telegraph - Business

Small businesses to be exempt from ban on junk food advertisin­g

- By Harry Yorke Whitehall editor

SMALL businesses will be exempt from a ban on junk food advertisin­g under plans to be revealed by ministers today.

As part of Boris Johnson’s efforts to tackle obesity, the Government will introduce a ban on unhealthy food adverts online and before the 9pm television watershed. Whitehall sources confirmed last night that ministers are pushing ahead with the measures, which were outlined in the Queen’s Speech in May.

However, they said that the online restrictio­ns would stop short of a “total ban”, as it would only apply to paid-for advertisin­g. Small businesses will also be exempt from the online and television ban. It is expected that the Government will set out in more detail which products will be in scope for the ban.

It follows concerns earlier this year that small high street restaurant­s, cafes and bakeries could be caught up in the new online restrictio­ns and prevented from drumming up business by posting images of products such as cakes and pastries on their social media accounts.

Christophe­r Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs said: “With its new exemptions, the Government has acknowledg­ed that banning adverts for normal, everyday food products would stifle competitio­n, hurt businesses and be bad for consumers. It should now throw in the towel and accept that advertisin­g jam, sandwiches and olive oil should not be a criminal act under any circumstan­ce, regardless of how many people the company employs.”

At present a formula based on sugar, salt and fat content determines which foods cannot be advertised during children’s television. The Advertisin­g Standards Authority is expected to enforce the new restrictio­ns, with companies which flout the rules ordered to take down adverts and potentiall­y incurring sanctions if they offend repeatedly.

The Daily Telegraph understand­s that a number of industry figures were called in for meetings yesterday to discuss the changes, expected later this year.

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