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Sheffield bans adverts for vape products

March 23, 2024

Sheffield City Hall (Photo via LDRS)

By Julia Armstrong, Local Democracy Reporter

Adverts for HFSS food, gambling, vaping products and airlines are among those set to be banned on many advertising hoardings in Sheffield.

Sheffield City Council is bringing in the ban for all advertising hoardings, online media and sponsorship opportunities that fall under its control. Council director of public health Greg Fell said the idea was to “set a tone” rather than see it as a cure for problems such as obesity and gambling.

A meeting of Sheffield City Council’s finance committee on 18 March agreed to the policy.

The full list to come into force from next month is:

  • Discrimination against any individual or group on the basis of any protected characteristic;
  • Weapons or illegal drugs or products;
  • Sexual or pornography-orientated entertainment materials or products;
  • Tobacco and related products;
  • E-cigarettes/vaping (except as part of certain stop smoking campaigns);
  • Gambling or betting products, services or organisations;
  • Fossil fuels-related brands;
  • Airlines and airports;
  • Petrol, diesel and hybrid electric plug-in vehicles;
  • Foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS), and food ordering services;
  • Certain breast or infant milk formulas;
  • Alcoholic drinks and low/zero alcohol drinks from brands synonymous with alcohol;
  • High-cost, short-term loan advancers.

The policy can be eased to support local small and medium-sized businesses.

The committee report said that potentially revenue could drop but evidence from other local authorities which have brought in similar bans have not seen that as affected brands are switching to spaces which are outside a council’s control.

Advertising and sponsorship officer Nicola Allen said the advertising industry is dominated by companies whose products are harmful to health and the environment, such as HFSS food and drinks and fossil fuels brands.

Cllr Toby Mallinson said: “We really welcome this, think it’s fantastic, a lot of hard work’s gone into it and background research. The ethical side of it, the categories being covered are very good.”

He said that illuminated boards need to be eliminated because of their carbon impact.

Green Party colleague Cllr Marieanne Elliot said that the policy was “really good, really encompassing, fair and progressive”.

She added: “There’s been some research done by AdFree Cities, who I know you’ve worked with, who’ve done a case study in Sheffield that showed that advertising and inequality go hand in hand with some quite interesting stats about the most deprived deciles having much more advertising than the least deprived areas.”

The AdFree Cities study showed that 60 per cent of advertisements in Sheffield are found in the poorest three deciles (areas) of the city. Just 2 per cent are sited in the most affluent three deciles.

Committee chair Cllr Zahira Naz welcomed the “ambitious” policy, adding: “We have to limit exposure to products that are contradicted to better outcomes for people and the planet.

“I think this policy is going in the right direction on that but we have also taken a balanced approach to ensure that Sheffield can still attract ambitious opportunities for the city, allow support for local businesses.”

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)