What’s happening with the HFSS ad ban?

Posted on Friday 08 April 2022 | IAB UK

Is the Government still planning to implement it at the start of next year? Read an update from our policy and regulatory affairs team

After a lot of noise in the press about the HFSS online ad ban last summer, 2022 has been comparatively quiet on this front so far - but that’s not to say that there aren’t developments to take note of. So, what’s happening with the ban? And is the Government still planning to implement it at the start of next year? 

Having been through the House of Lords, the Health and Care Bill (which the HFSS ad ban forms a part of) is now nearing the end of its journey through Parliament, and looks set to gain Royal Assent and pass into law shortly. In the case of the HFSS online ad ban, the most significant development from its consideration in the Lords is that the Government has given itself the ability to delay the implementation date of the ban - a win for the advertising industry that has been pushing for more flexibility on this front. 

At present, the Bill states that the HFSS online ad ban will be introduced at the start of 2023. The Government hasn’t yet stated whether it will delay the ban or not. If it does, we do not know how long the ban could be delayed by, but we can draw some insight from the fact that some members of the House of Lords put forward an amendment to limit a delay on the implementation period to a maximum of three months, which was rejected by the Government. This tallies with the fact that the Prime Minister recently said in PMQs that the Government is giving industry more time to adapt to the ban. 

This is important as the industry has made very clear that more time and guidance is needed in order for the HFSS online ad ban to be effectively implemented. Given the lead time of campaigns, IAB UK and fellow trade bodies are arguing that the industry should be given a minimum of a year to implement the ban once guidance has been published by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) detailing how to comply with the new law in practice. CAP will not be in a position to issue that guidance until later this year, leaving advertisers little time to create new campaigns that they can be confident will comply with the details of the new rules, if the implementation date of the ban remains January 2023. 

We will continue to keep you updated on developments relating to the HFSS ad ban and please do get in touch with [email protected] if you have any questions at this stage. 

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