Stop advertising harmful products in Lambeth

Adblock Lambeth has launched a campaign against advertising that promotes harmful products and services. We have written to all councillors in the borough asking them to support a ban of any outdoor advertising for 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).

Our proposals have already found support from a number of groups and individuals including Carla Denyer (Green Party co-leader), Andrew Simms (New Weather Institute), Extinction Rebellion Lambeth and Clean Up Gambling. Now we need your support to make sure that Lambeth councillors hear the message loud and clear!

Why are we opposing these forms of advertising?

These types of advertising encourage higher rates of obesity, addiction and gender violence and lead people towards activities that have a negative impact on the wellbeing of the planet. Locals have no choice about whether they view these adverts which are an unavoidable and prominent part of their public spaces. It works to undermine people’s attempts to make positive changes for themselves, their family and the future of the planet.

This advertising promotes excessive and unhealthy consumption, indirectly causes climate and ecological degradation, and directly and indirectly impacts human rights. It also drives inequalities, with advertising tending to be centred around more deprived communities.

For more on the negative impacts of advertising, take a look at the Adfree Cities report At What Cost? – the impacts of advertising and consumerism on human, community and planetary wellbeing.

How can I help?

If you are a Lambeth resident, you can help by contacting your local councillor and asking them to support the proposals. At the bottom of the blog, we’ve included a template letter that you can use to make contact.

If you’re not a Lambeth resident, but you travel through, work in or visit the borough, you can still lend your support and you may wish to choose to contact the councillor whose ward is most closely linked to your involvement with Lambeth.

You can find which councillor to contact through this search function on the Lambeth Council website.

Template letter

Dear Councillor x

I am writing to support Adblock Lambeth’s campaign against the advertising of harmful products and services within the borough. This advertising promotes excessive and unhealthy consumption, indirectly causes climate and ecological degradation, and directly and indirectly impacts human rights. It also drives inequalities, with advertising tending to be centred around more deprived communities.

Across England we are seeing local communities rejecting policies which prioritise corporate interests over theirs, with policies being put in place to curtail advertising of harmful products and services. In Norwich, the council recently voted unanimously to limit harmful categories of advertising and sponsorship such as gambling, junk food and environmentally-damaging products, while in January 2021 Liverpool Council voted to exclude advertising for high carbon products such as polluting cars, SUVs, airline flights and fossil fuel companies. In 2021, Bristol City Council outlawed junk food, gambling and payday loans on advertising sites it controls, North Somerset council voted against high carbon advertising, while Merton, Harringay, and Lambeth’s neighbour, Southwark Council, already operate policies banning junk food advertising.

It is not only local communities who are taking action. Both the UK government and Transport for London have recently acted to limit the harmful impact of junk food advertising. Few now would seriously question the bans on tobacco advertising that have come into force in the UK over the past 30 years and we are now on a similar trajectory with these other harmful forms of advertising. Lambeth Council has the opportunity to be bold and shows residents that it is at the forefront of this cultural shift towards valuing health and wellbeing over corporate profits.

As a Lambeth resident / someone who works in Lambeth / someone who travels through Lambeth, I call on the 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, environmentally polluting products 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.

I hope that you will promote and support these proposals within the council.

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