NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202)588-7746
For Immediate Release: June 23rd, 2004

U.S. Senate Bill Would Help Curb Childhood Obesity, Tobacco-Related Illnesses

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin introduced wide-ranging legislation today to deter corporations from encouraging behavior in children that can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and the many illnesses associated with tobacco.  The legislation is a first step in arresting the epidemic of marketing-related diseases in children, and contains some provisions affecting marketing in schools.

“Senator Harkin’s bill will help stop junk food and tobacco corporations from preying on the vulnerability and trust of impressionable children,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert.  “Sadly, our children will probably live shorter lives than their parents because of the saturation marketing by junk food companies.”

“States and cities are expelling the junk food marketers from schools,” Ruskin said.  “It’s time for Congress to help out parents who want schools to teach good nutrition, instead of pushing junk food and soda pop.”

Senator Harkin’s bill is called the HeLP (Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention) America Act of 2004 (S. 2558).  It would:

  • Eliminate the federal tax deductibility of tobacco advertising.
  • Restore the authority of the Federal Trade Commission to enact rules to protect children from advertisers who take advantage of their vulnerable and trusting natures.
  • Give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to (1) regulate the sale of junk food in schools and (2) prohibit advertising of food in schools participating in the School Lunch or Breakfast programs.
  • Grant the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco to safeguard public health.
  • Require chain restaurants to provide basic nutrition information.

A summary of the bill is available at:http://www.commercialalert.org/HELPbullets.pdf and the full text is at: http://www.commercialalert.org/Harkin2558.pdf.

According to a Yankelovich Partners poll in April, 65% of Americansthink there should be more limits and regulations on marketing and advertising.  (To read the poll, go to http://www.commercialalert.org/Yankelovich.pdf.) “Americans don’t want corporations wedging into the relationship between parents and children and seducing children into unhealthful behaviors,” Ruskin said.  “Senator Harkin deserves credit for responding with this bill.”

In 1980, Congress revoked rule-making authority from the Federal Trade Commission regarding marketing to children, and it has never been restored. Congress should stand on the side of children—not adults who prey upon them with advertising and marketing, Ruskin said.

Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, see our website at: http://www.commercialalert.org.

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NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202)588-7746
For Immediate Release: June 23rd, 2004

U.S. Senate Bill Would Help Curb Childhood Obesity, Tobacco-Related Illnesses

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin introduced wide-ranging legislation today to deter corporations from encouraging behavior in children that can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes and the many illnesses associated with tobacco.  The legislation is a first step in arresting the epidemic of marketing-related diseases in children, and contains some provisions affecting marketing in schools.

“Senator Harkin’s bill will help stop junk food and tobacco corporations from preying on the vulnerability and trust of impressionable children,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert.  “Sadly, our children will probably live shorter lives than their parents because of the saturation marketing by junk food companies.”

“States and cities are expelling the junk food marketers from schools,” Ruskin said.  “It’s time for Congress to help out parents who want schools to teach good nutrition, instead of pushing junk food and soda pop.”

Senator Harkin’s bill is called the HeLP (Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention) America Act of 2004 (S. 2558).  It would:

  • Eliminate the federal tax deductibility of tobacco advertising.
  • Restore the authority of the Federal Trade Commission to enact rules to protect children from advertisers who take advantage of their vulnerable and trusting natures.
  • Give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to (1) regulate the sale of junk food in schools and (2) prohibit advertising of food in schools participating in the School Lunch or Breakfast programs.
  • Grant the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco to safeguard public health.
  • Require chain restaurants to provide basic nutrition information.

A summary of the bill is available at:http://www.commercialalert.org/HELPbullets.pdf and the full text is at: http://www.commercialalert.org/Harkin2558.pdf.

According to a Yankelovich Partners poll in April, 65% of Americansthink there should be more limits and regulations on marketing and advertising.  (To read the poll, go to http://www.commercialalert.org/Yankelovich.pdf.) “Americans don’t want corporations wedging into the relationship between parents and children and seducing children into unhealthful behaviors,” Ruskin said.  “Senator Harkin deserves credit for responding with this bill.”

In 1980, Congress revoked rule-making authority from the Federal Trade Commission regarding marketing to children, and it has never been restored. Congress should stand on the side of children—not adults who prey upon them with advertising and marketing, Ruskin said.

Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, see our website at: http://www.commercialalert.org.

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