Government delays restrictions on multi-buy offers and TV and online advertising

  • Restrictions will be delayed in light of the unprecedented global economic situation and to give the industry more time to prepare for restrictions on advertising
  • Rules limiting the location of unhealthy foods in stores will be enforced as planned in October

Rules prohibiting multiple buy offers on foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) – including buy one get one free (BOGOF), “3 for 2” and restrictions on free refills for soft drinks – will be delayed for a year.

Restrictions on the placement of less healthy products – a key part of the government’s commitment to reducing obesity – will still come into effect in October 2022 as planned. This will mean less healthy products will no longer be promoted in key locations, such as checkouts, store entrances, aisle ends and their online equivalents.

Economies around the world have been affected by higher-than-expected global energy and commodity prices, driving up costs in supply chains that affect both businesses and consumers.

The postponement of restrictions on multiple purchase agreements will allow the government to review and monitor the impact of restrictions on the cost of living in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.

Restrictions banning HFSS adverts on TV before 9pm and paid online adverts will also be suspended for a year, meaning they will come into effect in January 2024. This is due to a delay in the royal assent of the project of health and care law, as well as a growing recognition that the industry needs more time to prepare.

A consultation on television and online paid advertising will be launched in the coming weeks.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said:

We are committed to doing everything we can to help people live healthier lives. The suspension of restrictions on offers such as buy one, get one free will allow us to understand its impact on consumers in light of an unprecedented global economic situation.

Minister of Media, Data and Digital, Julia Lopez, said:

We are committed to tackling childhood obesity and working hard to improve the health of young people, including investing £550m of government and lottery money to improve access to sport and activity physics across the country.

We have listened to the concerns that have been raised and will not impose restrictions on junk food advertising until we are confident that the time is right.

Shoppers will now be able to continue to take advantage of multi-buy offers on all foods, including healthier foods that were not included in the original restrictions.

Tackling obesity remains a priority for the government and will reduce pressure on the NHS as it strives to tackle covid backlogs.

Last month, calorie labeling laws in large restaurants, cafes and takeaways came into effect.

The government will also launch the Better Health: Rewards scheme in Wolverhampton later this year to test whether financial incentives can help adults move more and eat better.

The government will publish a white paper on health disparities later this year, aiming to break the link between factors such as people’s social or economic circumstances and their outlook for a healthy life. It will look at the biggest preventable killers, including obesity.

The government has taken action to support families worth more than £22billion in 2022-23 to cope with rising costs. National Insurance starting thresholds will rise to £12,570 from July 2022, meaning people in the UK will keep more of what they earn before they start paying tax.

Households subject to council tax in AD bands in England will receive a non-refundable council tax rebate of £150, and local authorities receive additional discretionary funding to help those in need but not not eligible.

A new statutory instrument will be presented to Parliament to confirm that the restriction of volume price promotions will be delayed.

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