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  SCEC Press Releases

Press Release
Jun 18, 2004
For Immediate Release
Contact: Dr. Susan Linn 617-232-8390 ext. 2328 (SCEC)
             Josh Silver, 413-585-1533, ext.21 (Free Press)

Senator Harkin Unveils HeLP AMERICA Bill to Improve Children’s Health and Limit Advertising to Children

Public Interest Groups Launch National Campaign to Support Restoration of FTC authority to Regulate Marketing to Children

The coalition to Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children (SCEC) and the media reform organization Free Press today launched a national public outreach campaign to build support for Senator Harkin’s [D-IA] Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention legislation.

The bill would reinstate the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) rulemaking authority to issue restrictions on advertising to children. In 1980, corporate lobbyists persuaded Congress to rescind the FTC’s power to regulate marketing to children. Since then, child-directed marketing has escalated exponentially with virtually no government oversight.

“Marketing that targets children encourages family stress, precocious sexuality, youth violence, and unhealthy eating habits,” said Dr. Susan Linn, SCEC’s co-founder and the author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood. “In the twenty four years that marketers have been allowed to police themselves, we’ve seen the emergence of a full-blown epidemic of childhood obesity. The current glut of marketing promotes more than junk food. It promotes junk values and undermines parental authority.”

The HeLP America Act would also restrict marketing in schools that participate in the school lunch or breakfast programs. In recent years, there has been an explosion of in-school marketing, including corporate-sponsored newscasts and educational materials, advertisements in hallways, cafeterias, and gymnasiums, and exclusive pouring rights contracts with soda manufacturers.

“A corrupt policy making process driven by special interests has created a system that makes it more difficult to regulate advertising to children than to adults,” said Free Press managing director Josh Silver. “This legislation is a first step in protecting children and families from the out-of-control advertising that is plaguing all consumers.” National surveys have found overwhelming support for restrictions on marketing to children.

To urge your Senators to support this historic legislation, please visit

Click here for more background on this issue.








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