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Sinn Féin supports ban on junk food adverts

9 December, 2003

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications Seán Crowe TD supported a Private Members' Bill tonight brought by the Green Party to ban junk food advertising aimed specifically at children. Deputy Crowe said:

"The issue of advertisers directly targeting children is one that has become very serious in recent years as the growing scale and sophistication of that form of advertising makes clear. The President of the American marketing company Kids 'R Us advises advertisers, "If you own this child at an early age, you can own this child for years to come." This kind of disgusting sentiment should be enough to convince us of the cynicism and exploitative element of advertisers.

"In the run up to Christmas the number of adverts for toys, dolls and games on television massively increases. The pressure this can put on families, especially those already struggling to get by, is intense. So-called 'pester power' is a well-known marketing phenomenon, where advertising is used to convert children into mini salespeople, harassing their parents to buy products.

"A survey in DCU on children and advertising has found that when children were asked about their favourite advertisements, 43.5% of the ads mentioned were for alcohol products while 32.5% were for food and drink, 97% of which were for snack food. While I agree that the issue of obesity is certainly a cause for concern, I find these figures even more disturbing and I wonder why when cigarettes are banned from television advertising, alcohol has managed to stay on the air?

"I am aware that in Britain, the House of Commons Select Committee on Health is currently conducting an inquiry into obesity, and charges that big fast food chains and junk food manufacturers have targeted children to make profits from products that damage the health of children. This investigation has seen representatives from McDonalds, Pepsi, Cadbury's and other companies being called to give evidence. This inquiry is now seriously considering a ban on junk food advertising during children's broadcasting and there may be a great deal for us to learn from their work"ENDS

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