Fast food adverts could be banned from council-owned sites in the Capital as part of an effort to tackle obesity.
Liberal Democrat Cllr Kevin Lang has tabled a motion at a full council meeting, calling for an investigation into “the legal powers available to ban fast food advertising on sites owned by the council, including bus and tram stops”.
This follows a similar ban that will come in force from 25 February in London that will bring in a fast food advertisement ban on its public transport network, after 82 per cent of residents supported the proposals. The restrictions will apply to advertisements on all modes of transport controlled by TfL, including the underground, overground, London buses, trams and river services.
If Cllr Lang’s motion wins support, the council will draw up a timetable to hold a public consultation on such a ban as well as a “financial appraisal of any new restrictions” including replacing projected lost revenue from other advertising sources.
Cllr Lang said: “Advertising has a major influence on the decisions we all make. It is why fast food companies spend billions of pounds on their adverts every year.
“Yet as a country, we are facing an obesity crisis with national obesity levels amongst the highest in the developed world. The question is whether the council is helping or hindering that by allowing sites such as bus and tram stops to be used for fast food advertising. I believe the approach now being taken forward in other cities is worth looking at.
“The London experience certainly showed strong public support for banning fast food advertising across that city’s transport network. It would be interesting to know whether there is similar support here in Edinburgh. It is certainly not the only answer to the obesity problem but it may help.”
An Advertising Association spokesman said: “Advertising restrictions, like the one tabled, will certainly negatively impact income and revenue incomes for the city council, but are likely to have little or no effect on childhood obesity levels in the city.
“It is important to note that the advertising rules currently in force in the country are among the strictest in the world and that the advertising in question helps pay for Edinburgh’s transport network and infrastructure.
“International experience and independent research have shown an advertising ban would have minimal impact on the wider issues that drive obesity, which is caused by many complex factors and means help is needed at a community level.”