Adblock Lambeth launches campaign for a ban on harmful advertising with the support of politicians and campaign groups

OCT 25, 2021

Co-leader of the Green Party, Carla Denyer, is among the signatories to an Abdlock Lambeth proposal seeking a ban of harmful advertising within Lambeth borough.

The groups are asking for a council-wide ban on advertising of junk food, alcohol, gambling, payday loans and environmentally polluting products, such as fossil fuel companies, cars and airlines, arguing that they are harmful to people and the planet.

The think tank, New Weather Institute, and groups Fossil Free London, Extinction Rebellion Lambeth and the Coalition Against Gambling Ads have all co-signed the letter, which has been sent to every Lambeth councillor today.

The groups are also encouraging Lambeth residents and locals to email their councillors with the same request.

Matt Zarb-Cousin from the Coalition Against Gambling Ads says:

“Gambling needs to be reframed as a public health issue. It disproportionally affects children and young men, as well as low-income and vulnerable adults. Gambling advertising exploits them for profit and pushes their lives into a negative spiral.”

The letter from Adblock Lambeth call on Lambeth Council “to review its advertising strategy and to commit to the following:

  1. Where it is within the council’s gift, to end all advertising within Lambeth of junk food (HFSS, or High in Fat Salt or Sugar), alcohol, gambling, payday loans and highly environmentally polluting products (such as fossil fuel companies, cars and airlines)
  2. To commit not to partner or associate the council with any organisations which promote junk food (HFSS, or High in Fat Salt or Sugar), environmentally polluting products (such as fossil fuel companies, cars and airlines) and activities, payday lenders, gambling and alcohol.
  3. To write to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, asking for a national ban on unethical forms of advertising listed above.”

Other UK cities have already put similar bans in place, such as Norwich (2021), Liverpool (2021), Bristol (2021) and North Somerset (2021). In London, Transport for London banned junk food advertising on its network in 2018, and a few councils already have similar bans in place, such as Southwark (2019), Haringey and Merton (2019).

In January 2019, Lambeth was the first London council to declare a Climate Emergency, but it still hasn’t followed up on TfL’s example.

Earlier this year, the government also announced a ban on junk food advertising online and before 9pm on TV from 2023, in an effort to tackle obesity rates.

Camille Aboudaram from Adblock Lambeth explained why they think banning harmful advertising is important:

“Advertisers manipulate people’s emotions to provoke irrational, impulse decisions as well as to subconsciously create ideals and lifestyles. And it works: the more we are exposed to ads, the more we buy those products.

“But advertising certain things is immoral” she continued, “and there are clear links between levels of junk food advertising and levels of obesity.

“The immorality of it is even more stark when these public health issues can be directly linked with certain class and racial demographics; the very groups that advertisers are trying to reach. We cannot justify continuing to advertise these products.

“Similarly, we know the impact that alcohol has on domestic violence. Big rises in domestic violence were recorded during the men’s Euro 2020 tournament and during the pandemic, and it is clear that alcohol made this worse. It is time to stop avoiding this issue and develop a similar approach to alcohol advertising as we have seen taken with tobacco products