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Singapore will impose a blanket ban on advertising for the least healthy sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) and is mulling prohibiting the sale of these products.

The ban will extend across all mass media platforms including print, broadcast, out of home and online channels. It is likely to seriously impact the advertising for soft drinks including energy drinks, malted drinks, juice drinks and juices, cultured milk/ yoghurt drinks, and 3-in-1 or 2-in-1 instant beverages.  

The measure was announced in a circular by the Ministry of Health, issued yesterday.

In addition, the Ministry of Health intends introducing a colour graded front of pack nutrient summary label for the less healthy SSBs, in an attempt to make it easier for consumers to gravitate towards healthier options and choices. 

The grade will be given taking into account the nutritional quality of the beverage, with sugar being one of the determining factors. The measures are expected to roll out in 2020, after the Ministry consults with the SSB and the advertising industry. 

The decision to ban advertising comes after a public consultation by the Ministry in the course of which it found 48% of Singaporeans supported banning not just the advertising for the least healthy SSBs but the products themselves.

The consultation also revealed that the nine out of 10 respondents agreed that Singaporeans needed to consume less sugar; 84% supported mandatory front of pack labels, 71% supported regulation of advertising and 65% supported a hike in excise duties to encourage manufacturers to reduce the quantity of sugar.  

The consultations involved 4,000 responses from the general public, doctors, academia and representatives from the beverage and the advertising industries.

In its statement, the Ministry did not rule out a ban on the most harmful SSBs and said: “We will start by introducing two of the measures, specifically the front-of-pack nutrition label and advertising regulations, while we continue to explore an excise duty or a ban, which are more complex measures that require further study. We urge SSB manufacturers to consider reformulating their drinks to contain less sugar even as we further study these measures.”

 

 

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