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New rules for junk food ads aimed to 'protect the wellbeing of children' to take effect in December

The ASAI will put in place limits around when and how many junk food ads can appear in different media.

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NEW ADVERTISING RULES for foods high in fat, salt and sugar will take effect later this year, with restrictions focused on limiting advertising to children. 

The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) today released the details of the new rules relating to the advertising of junk food and drinks.

They are aimed to restrict these advertisements from being targeted or directed at young people under the age of 15.

Under the rules due to take effect on 1 December this year, ads for junk food products aren’t allowed if more than 50% of the audience is aged under 15. 

Locations such as schools, creches, youth centres, playgrounds and other areas used by children should be free from “all forms of marketing communication” for junk foods, the ASAI said. 

The authority said restrictions will also apply to the percentage of junk food marketing communications that can be carried out by each media format.

No more than one-third of available outdoor space will be able to carry junk food marketing communications and for cinema, digital and print media, no more than one-quarter of available space can carry these ads.

The ASAI code applies to ads and sales promotions in all media in Ireland including online, TV, cinema, radio, influencer marketing and in-game advertisements.

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New rules will also apply to sponsorships and the use of licenced characters in promotions.

“The rules are in response to changing media habits among young people, as well as wider concerns in society about public health challenges for this age group,” a statement from the ASAI said. 

The above rules will be in addition to existing rules such as marketing communications should not denigrate a healthy lifestyle, not encourage unhealthy eating or drinking habits, not encourage consumption to take advantage of a promotional offer.

The chief executive of the ASAI, Orla Twomey, said the rules “are a significant and positive change designed to help and protect the wellbeing of children as well limit the overall exposure of HFSS advertising to the general public”. 

Twomey said they will “alter the nature of how food advertising is seen by children”. 

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