Children's Advertising Code

The Dental Health Foundation welcomes the announcement of the Children's Advertising Code by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI).

The Foundation initiated a collaborative response to BCI's phase 3 Consultation Document. The Commission upheld the Foundation's and its collaborative partners* objections to the proposed treatment of the code 7.4, in particular the proposed use of a toothbrush symbol on confectionary advertising.

Toothbrush symbol and confectionery

The toothbrush symbol had been included based on a concern expressed in phase two as to the effect on oral health of the consumption by children of high sugar foods. In addition, the provision was in keeping with the Commission's approach of awareness- raising and educational measures as opposed to prohibitions. In the consultation process, many people highlighted additional products that they believed should be included under this clause including 'fizzy' drinks. However, there were three main objections to this provision, broadly along three main themes:

  • Lack of clarity as to the definition of confectionery
  • The ability of children to correctly interpret the symbol concerned
  • The view that to isolate confectionery was discriminatory

In particular the Dental Health Foundation and its collaborative partners articulated the view that a toothbrush symbol could be ambiguous, in that children could misinterpret the symbol to mean that these foods are tooth friendly. We asked that a warning or message be placed on such adverts instead.

The Foundation welcomed the Commission's decision to retain the spirit of this provision but has replaced the toothbrush symbol with an on-screen message on all children's advertising for confectionary products. The wording 'snacking on sugary foods and drinks can damage teeth' will now be carried on all relevant advertising.

The Foundation was subsequently pleased to work with the Commission in the creation of wording of the message and the definition of confectionary. It was developed in partnership with the Society of Chief and Principal Dental Surgeons in Ireland, the Oral Health Promotion Research Group, the National Nutrition Surveillance Centre and the Oral Health Services Research Centre, UCC.

The code came into effect on 1st January 2005.


* The Society of Chief and Principal Dental Surgeons in Ireland, The Oral Health Promotion Research Group