Maine Mulls New Ad Regulations

NEW YORK Maine will make an attempt next year to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food to children, according to politicians there. The move is seen by food lobbyists as a possible bellwether for other states that may want to follow suit—or go further.

When introduced to the legislature in 2005, the bill, which has yet to be written, will likely include measures to ban soda in school vending machines, require healthy food be given equal billing to junk food in school cafeterias, and require fast-feeders to display nutritional information in restaurants and on packaging, according to state Rep. Margaret M. Craven (D), one of its authors.

Later in 2005, Craven said, the state attorney general’s office is expected to advise the legislature on how much legal leeway it has in implementing “restrictions” on TV ads by food companies targeting kids. Those possible restrictions, aired as a legislative proposal by the state’s Commission to Study Public Health in August, have not been detailed. The proposals are also supported by Maine Rep. Sean Faircloth (D). “I’m very enthusiastic about the results of it,” he said.

The Association of National Advertisers is among those groups lobbying against the proposal. “It shows how serious the issue of obesity is,” said Keith Scarborough, ANA’s vp, state government relations. “If Maine starts to go after advertising, other states hear about it and it becomes a more serious national threat.”