The Province of Quebec [Canada] is still the only single jurisdiction in North America where lawmakers voted, back in 1976, to make advertising to children under 13 years old illegal.
Quebecers have supported this legislation for well over 30 years because they feel it is helpful to protect children from marketing strategies by the industry. After the law was implemented in 1980, the toy industry chose to challenge it by arguing that the Quebec ruling infringed its freedom of expression. In 1989, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Quebec legislation was a "REASONABLE" restriction to marketers' freedom of expression, and that it provided protection for an actually "VULNERABLE" portion of population. The Supreme Court of Canada concluded that the Quebec legislation was respecting the Canadian Constitution, including the Canadian Bill of Rights.
For well over 3 decades, citizens who followed this saga were very curious to see if scientists would evaluate the benefits of this child protection strategy by legislators. On July 13, 2012, the New York Times posted an article by Catherine Musemeche, about a study published 15 months before, on the 8 of April 2011. Here is what reporters at Care2 wrote about the study by researchers from British Columbia [Canada] and University of Illinois [United States]:
"The province of Quebec in Canada has the lowest childhood obesity rates in the country despite having one of the most sedentary lifestyles. How is that possible? A study by Tirtha Dhar and Kathy Baylis found that Quebec’s 32 year ban on advertising to children led to an estimated:
US$88 million annual reduction in expenditures on fast food.
13.4 billion to 18.4 billion fewer fast food calories being consumed per year.
The study also found that patterns established in childhood carried into adulthood, with French speaking young adults in Quebec being 38% less likely to purchase fast food than French speaking young adults in Ontario (where there is no advertising ban)."
Information about the benefits of banning ads targeting kids needs to be circulated. Media educators, law educators, health educators, students in education or health, parents and child rights activists should consider reading the articles below, forwarding them to their contacts, posting them on their websites, giving them to their students for discussion or debate. The conclusions of this study represent a huge victory for all children in North America and the world.
- April 8, 2011: Publication by researchers from UBC and U. of Illinois.
FAST FOOD CONSUMPTION AND THE BAN ON ADVERTISING TARGETING CHILDREN: THE QUEBEC EXPERIENCE
- June 28, 2012: Article by Annie Urban posted on U.S. website CARE2.
ADVERTISING BANS WORK: QUEBEC HAS THE LOWEST CHILDHOOD OBESITY RATE (IN CANADA)
- July 13, 2012: Article by Catherine Musemeche published in NY Times.
BAN ON ADVERTISING TO CHILDREN LINKED TO LOWER OBESITY RATES
Media Education is a powerful tool to give knowledge and power to students, parents, and teachers. The articles mentioned above carry such knowledge. It can fuel activism and trigger action in other provinces of Canada and inspire decision makers in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. What educators need is expertise and willingness to trigger people's curiosity, feed their appetite for freedom, and help them getting organized for action.
Legislating to ban advertising to kids has proven to be helpful to prevent obesity.
Edupax - not for profit organisation for Media Education, Violence Prevention, Peace Education, and Health Promotion
News for Media Awareness: ACME-QUEBEC
Image credit: kidsportzusa.org
Published July 23 2013