Promotion of Products Injurious to Health Banned

Promotion of Products  Injurious to Health BannedPromotion of Products  Injurious to Health Banned

Advertisement by the mass media of products harmful to people’s wellbeing has been strictly banned under Article 70 of a new bill passed in the parliament last week.

The legislature approved addendums to Articles 69 and 70 of the next five-year economic development plan, which refers to statutory restrictions on media advertising, IRNA reported.

Accordingly, no advertisements for products high in fats, sugars or salt as deemed harmful by the Health Ministry and the National Standards Organization can be displayed.

The cash penalty for violating the law would be 10 times the cost of the advertisement and will be deposited with the national treasury.

The World Health Organization says the majority of advertisements commonly viewed by children around the globe are for heavily processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt and calories and food processing companies spend millions on marketing strategies. But there should be restrictions on such harmful publicity so as to encourage healthy diets.

Food advertising and other forms of marketing have been shown to influence children’s food preferences, purchasing behavior and overall dietary choices. It is also associated with increasing risk of overweight and obesity in children. The habits children develop early in life may encourage them to adopt unhealthy dietary practices which persist into adulthood, increasing the likelihood of overweight, obesity and associated health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Following the passage of the bill, MP and member of the Majlis Health and Hygiene Commission Rasoul Khezri, told ICANA that Article 37 of the fifth development plan (2011-2016) had laid down the same restrictions, but they failed to take effect.

  Green Tax

“The fifth plan prohibited any sort of advertisement of harmful products, and companies producing them, such as soda or tobacco firms, were obliged to pay green tax as per the article,” he noted.

Green tax is tax paid by consumers for products or services that are not environmentally friendly. The intended purpose of the green tax is to offset the negative impact resulting from the use of non-green products and services.

According to Khezri, in the current fiscal year’s budget (March 2016-March 2017), a total of 17,000 billion rials ($490 million) is projected in tobacco tax that will be passed on to the health sector.

Dealing with violators of the law would be a task of the Tazirat Organization. Tazirat (meaning state punishment) is affiliated to the judiciary and ensures that laws are implemented and violators are prosecuted. Its responsibilities include overseeing observation of social, cultural, medical and economic rights as well as pursuing contraband and currency smuggling, real estate violations, and economic abuse such as overcharging, fraud and hoarding, among other infringements.