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Beverage Firms Cease All Advertising to Children Under 12


By Laurel Wentz, January 31, 2006

NEW YORK ( -- In an effort to stave off European Union legislation, soft-drink marketers in Europe have pledged to stop marketing to children under 12 and to limit soft-drink sales in schools.

Coca-Cola Co. and Pepsi-Cola Co. were among the members of the Union of European Beverage Association members that agreed to the new marketing restrictions for schools.

Advertisers warned

Markos Kyprianou, the EU’s health and consumer-affairs commissioner, warned advertisers a year ago to develop self-regulatory measures to stop advertising junk food and help combat child obesity or face tough new laws. Now marketers are offering commitments to what EU regulators describe as a “platform on health, diet and physical activity” that involves food companies, health organizations and the media.

The European drive to compel marketers has implications for the U.S., said Stefan Loeke, managing director of the Brussels-based World Federation of Advertisers. ”Regulators are looking to each other to see what approaches are being considered.” He said that the U.S. will take part in a May event in Brussels to discuss best practices to address the obesity issue.

Coke and Pepsi

Last week UNESDA, the Union of European Beverage Associations, delivered its commitment to the EU platform. The group, whose members include Coca-Cola Co., Pepsi-Cola Co., Cadbury Schweppes European Beverages and Unilever, said members won’t aim marketing communication in broadcast, print or online at children under 12. They generally won’t have vending machines in primary schools, and will offer a full range of beverages in vending machines in secondary schools, increasing the number of low- or no-calorie drinks, UNESDA said.

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