Norwich Council votes to limit harmful advertising

Norwich City councillors have unanimously voted to limit harmful categories of advertising and sponsorship such as gambling, junk food and environmentally-damaging products. The motion passed at a full council meeting on 29th June 2021.

The Labour-run Cabinet is now tasked with scoping options for future implementation. Further campaigning and lobbying of the Council will be needed to ensure the historic opportunity to remove some of the most harmful adverts is not missed.

In January 2021, Liverpool City Council became the first council in the UK to pass a ‘Low Carbon Advertising Policy’ motion. This would exclude advertising for high carbon products such as polluting cars, SUVs, airline flights and fossil fuel companies. It is still in the process of implementing that motion.

Bristol City Council became the first local authority outside of London to ban advertising for junk food, gambling and payday loans on ad sites it controls such as bus stops in March 2021. In December 2020, Amsterdam municipality voted to end advertising for petrol and diesel cars, airlines and fossil fuel companies. Amsterdam implemented this ban on its transport network in May 2021.

Are you interested in removing harmful adverts from your local area? Lobby your local councillors by sending them our policy recommendations asking them to take action. You can find your local councillor on

Our friends at Badvertising have produced a climate toolkit for local policymakers, specifically focusing on how to exclude adverts for high carbon products such as SUVs, airlines and fossil fuel companies.

Watch the video below of the speeches from Norwich City councillors proposing the motion.

The full text of the Norwich motion is below:

Norwich City Council meeting – 29th June 2021
Motion 9a – Passed with amendments.

Paid promotion of activities or products that are potentially harmful to mental or physical health or the environment, such as junk food, gambling, alcohol or the most polluting forms of transport, are very common on our television screens, radios, social media feeds and across a variety of out of home advertising media.

There is a strong precedent for precluding such forms of advertising. Most forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship were banned from 2003 (e.g. on billboards and in printed publications): tobacco sponsorship of international sport was banned from 2005. Other councils, including Bristol, have developed more ethical advertising policies.

This council RESOLVES to: 

1)  Ask the cabinet to develop and enhance an advertising strategy recognising the harmful effects that junk food, environmentally polluting products and activities, payday lenders, gambling and alcohol can have on local residents. This policy would then be used to ascertain which companies and products the council wishes to associate itself with and support, including local businesses, and ban harmful products, companies or services from being advertised in council owned premises, e.g. car parks, in our communications, or from sponsoring council organised events.

2)    Review and update the council’s planning policy to ensure, within legal restrictions, that new advertising hoardings cannot be installed within the proximity of schools.

3)    Ask cabinet to work with partners, to phase out all forms of advertising, especially via outdoor media across the city, that are potentially harmful to our communities, to which we as a city council can influence, such as gambling, alcohol, junk food and environmentally damaging products.

4)    Write to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, asking for a ban on such forms of unethical advertising nationally and asking to follow the lead of Italy, which in 2018 introduced a ‘Dignity Decree’ that banned all advertisements for gambling services across all channels in the country, meaning gambling advertisements were no longer allowed on television, radio, print media, the internet, or any other public forum in Italy.

Listen to the issue being discussed on BBC Radio Norfolk including an interview with Councillor Martin Schmierer who proposed the motion (from 01:07:14).

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