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#AVMSD: A once in a decade opportunity to protect children from alcohol and unhealthy food marketing




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161202healthyfood2Over 40 European and national health organisations and NGOs have joined forces in a campaign to protect children from the promotion and advertising of alcohol and unhealthy food. The revision of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) offers an opportunity to incorporate concerns about a growing obesity epidemic in Europe, which is a ticking time bomb for countries already struggling to meet current demands on their health services.

Daciana Octavia Sârbu, MEP: “The European Union has a once in a decade opportunity to protect its children from ubiquitous marketing of unhealthy foods and alcohol. It is called the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and it comes in the shape of a watershed: no commercial communications for alcohol and unhealthy food during hours where children in great numbers watch television. The EU and its Member States and MEPs have an obligation to protect our children’s health and should not leave this to commercial interests and self-regulation.”

John Ryan, from the Commission's health Directorate General (SANTE) pointed out at a meeting organised by the coalition in the European Parliament (1 December) that on average EU countries have reduced their funding on health prevention from a meagre 2.7% to 1.9%. National governments don't have the means to make their case to young people on the dangers of poor diet and alcohol consumption. So EU rules that can tackle advertising aimed at young people will be critical in tackling the aggressive marketing of alcohol and foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) on a frequent basis.

The proposed revision of the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) is a key opportunity to free Europe’s young people from health-harmful marketing that can’t be overlooked. The coalition of health organisations are urging Members of the European Parliament to grasp this occasion to amend the Directive by taking 3 additional steps to a better future for the younger generation:

The impove the AVMSD coalition call on:

  1. Minimise young people’s exposure to marketing of health-harmful products

No more TV adverts for alcohol, sugar sweetened beverages and sodas or foods high in fat, salt and sugar between 6am and 11pm. Self-regulation has been shown not to work and mandatory measures are needed to minimise the exposure of children and adolescents to health-harmful marketing, regardless of whether the advertising is directly aimed at them or not.  Measures should cover television, on-demand services and online video-sharing platforms and include an EU-wide watershed that adequately captures children’s and adolescents’ viewing times.

  1. Exclude alcohol and HFSS food from product placement and sponsorship

Product placement and sponsorship of alcoholic beverages and HFSS food are effective marketing techniques, and should be prohibited alongside those for tobacco and medicinal products.

  1. Ensure that Member States can effectively limit broadcasts from other countries on public health grounds

The efforts of governments to reduce the negative health effects of alcohol and HFSS foods marketing should not be undermined by broadcasters established in other countries. The European Commission proposal to this effect should be supported.

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