For a long time there was silence regarding promotion of fast food in Russia . Advertising laws do not contain specific rules in this area and, consequently, the advertisers are not required to warn consumers about the possible effect of consuming such products (eg., excess bodyweight, obesity, high blood glucose and so on).
However, it seems things are about to change soon. At the beginning of 2017 the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation introduced a draft of Multi-agency Strategy on Health Care Development, Prevention and Control over Noninfectious Diseases for the period until 2025. This document underlines state priorities and critical needs in the respective areas and comprise guidance for arranging legislative basis to meet those needs.
The Strategy initially aimed at preventing adverts of unhealthy foods from broadcasting beyond permitted time. Such approach would target advertising of such products as fizzy drinks, potato chips, fast food, chocolate and sausage products.
Following several revisions, the scope of restrictions was further extended to any marketing activity related to unhealthy food. According to the Strategy published in April 2017, no prohibition currently exists in Russia to promote products destructive to health of consumers of any ages, therefore, it is of critical importance to take strategic measures to limit influence of any forms of marketing (including online marketing) with regard to products high in calories, saturated fats, trans fats, sugars or salt. The Strategy has not yet been approved, and the list of actions, which may be introduced, might undergo further updates. In any case, in order to implement the ideas of the Strategy respective changes to advertising regulations might be expected.
This is not the first attempt to restrict fast food advertising in Russia. Russian lawmakers considered amendments to the Federal Law on Advertising in 2015 to protect minors and to form the health food culture in Russia. However, all three state agencies, that were in charge of examination, rejected that draft bill. Notably, the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation that is currently calling for implementing specific regulation of this type of advertising, was among such agencies.
According to mass media, the main reason to decline that initiative in 2015 was the FIFA World Cup to be held by Russia in 2018. The event is sponsored by major players of fast food market, and advertising restrictions would frustrate their partnership with Russia. As mentioned in the Health Care Development Program, formation of healthy lifestyle should be a project of preference for the state till to 2025. Obesity, high blood sugar and cholesterol are all due to be handled. We do not exclude this campaign for restricting fast food advertising will take shape after 2018.
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