Skip to main content

Advertising Restrictions on Less Healthy Food: Delay in Implementation

Volume 724: debated on Friday 9 December 2022

The Government are delaying the implementation of the introduction of further advertising restrictions on TV and online for less healthy food and drink products until 1 October 2025.

Due to a delay to Royal Assent of the Health and Care Act 2022, and recognition that industry needs more time to prepare for the restrictions, in May 2022, Government announced a year delay to the implementation of these restrictions to 1 January 2024.

However feedback from industry and the regulators is now clear that there is insufficient time to prepare for implementation on the previously announced date of 1 January 2024.

This is because ahead of implementation there are a number of steps that need to be taken including: a Government consultation on draft regulations that are required to set out the details of the advertising restrictions, such as the definition of product categories in scope of the advertising restrictions and the definition of the exemptions for small and medium enterprises, audio only content and services connected to regulated radio; the subsequent making of such regulations; a consultation from the statutory regulator (Ofcom) on the designation of a frontline regulator; the possible designation of a frontline regulator by Ofcom; and publication of guidance to support business compliance with advertising restrictions, following consultation on such guidance from the frontline regulator.

Through discussions with key stakeholders it is clear that this process cannot be delivered by January 2024.

We have listened carefully to the concerns raised by advertisers, broadcasters and regulators about the importance of having sufficient time with these documents to fully prepare and restructure their advertising. We also recognise that businesses need time to reformulate their products. This is why we have decided to delay implementation of this policy until 1 October 2025.

Parliament included a power in the Health and Care Act to delay implementation of the advertising restrictions if necessary. We will be utilising this power to amend the date of implementation for the advertising restrictions by secondary legislation, which we are laying today.

To illustrate our commitment to this policy, we are also launching a consultation on the definitions included in secondary legislation, to provide detail to that included in the Health and Care Act. This consultation will run for 16 weeks, until 31 March 2023.

This consultation will not be inviting opinions on the policy or looking to deviate from anything announced in the consultation response in June 2021—it will be to confirm the clarity of the definitions used and that the text in the secondary legislation is fit for purpose.

Addressing obesity remains a priority for the Government. Having a fit and healthy population is essential for a thriving economy and we remain committed to helping people live healthier lives.

New regulations on out of home calorie labelling for food sold in large businesses including restaurants, cafes and takeaways came into force in April 2022 and restrictions on the promotion by location of products high in fat, salt or sugar came into force in October 2022.