London transport: Junk food advertising ban to come into effect next year

London UK, January 2018. Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, London.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a ban on junk food advertising across London’s public transport systems.

Adverts for junk food will no longer be allowed on the tube, bus or overground and will take effect early next year.

According to advertising industry representatives, the move will cost TfL tens of millions of pounds in revenue. 

Sadiq Khan, however, hopes it will tackle the “ticking timebomb” of childhood obesity in London.

“It’s clear that advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make, whether we realise it or not, and Londoners have shown overwhelming support for a ban on adverts for junk food and drink on our transport network,” he said.

“Reducing exposure to junk food advertising has a role to play in this – not just for children, but parents, families and carers who buy food and prepare meals,” he added.

According to figures fromPublic Health England released last month, over 37% of 10 and 11-year-olds in the capital were overweight or obese.

Food with high levels of fat, sugar and salt will no longer be advertised on public transport. Nor will fast-food chains be able to simply promote their brand with a generic logo.

Stephen Woodford, who is the chief executive of the Advertising Association, said: “This will lose revenue from advertising for TfL and that will potentially have an impact on the fares that passengers have to pay.”

Justin Cochrane, the chairman of trade body Outsmart, said that the move could cost TfL up to £35 million a year.

“They’re convinced that new advertisers will come in and that could be the case but over a much longer period of time. Advertising plans are already done for next year,” he said.

“The way he’s doing it feels completely wrong. It feels like a political thing. There’s no evidence to say that banning advertising particularly helps with childhood obesity. We already have loads of voluntary codes,” Cochrane added.