Bristol City Council introduces ban on gambling advertising

Bristol City Council has updated its advertising and sponsorship policy to include a prohibition of all gambling related adverts.

As reported by local media outlets such as BristolLive, the new initiative could cost up to £150,000 in lost revenues. Advertising of alcohol products and payday loans, as well as foods with high sugar and fat content, will also be restricted under the policy update.

The city council has further stated that it believes the policy ‘to be the most complete of its kind in England’.

“We take the health of our residents seriously and have been working with our local public health experts for some time to find ways to support the health of our citizens,” said Councillor Asher Craig, the Deputy Mayor for Bristol, with responsibilities for communities, equalities and public health.

“One of the ways we intend to do this is to restrict the most harmful types of advertising from city centre banners, digital screens and bus stop adverts.”

The council has a wider ‘Health in all Policies’ strategy, although some campaigners have suggested that the ban on certain products on council owned property or sites such as billboards, digital screens and bus shelters does not go far enough.

Venues where the rules apply include social media channels, screens at various venues, including museums, libraries, and customer service points, in addition to 180 bus shelters and 17 hoardings.

Additionally, the council says that it will not permit advertising in its parks and green spaces ‘unless for an outlet or event operating within that space’. 

It adds that if other advertising is required during an event, then ‘it should be within the boundaries of the event space and form part of the hire agreement’.

“By putting people’s health first, we have made Bristol’s policy one of the strongest in the country, leading by example and showing willingness to take a potential hit on our income in order to support people’s health and wellbeing,” Craig added.

The new initiative has been introduced at a time when the extent of gambling advertising and sponsorship is being debated by politicians and sporting bodies on both sides of the Irish sea.

In the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm (APPG) has called on free-to-air broadcaster ITV – home to numerous high profile horse racing fixtures – and Channel 5 to end daytime gambling advertising, whilst in Ireland the Labour Party, Gaelic Players Association (GPA) and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) have collectively argued for a ban on gambling advertisements during sporting events.

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