Singapore to ban sugary drink ads in fight against diabetes

October 10, 2019 16:25
Singapore is taking steps to curb sugar consumption among its people amid a diabetes crisis. Photo: Bloomberg

Singapore will ban advertisements of certain fizzy drinks and juices, part of a raft of measures to curb sugar consumption as the city-state grapples with a diabetes crisis among its population.

Under the measures, further details of which will be released next year, high-sugar drinks will also be required to bear health warnings on labels, Reuters reports.

“We will introduce an advertising prohibition of product advertisements for the least healthy SSBs on all local mass media platforms, including broadcast, print, out-of-home and online channels,” Singapore's health ministry was quoted as saying, referring to sugar-sweetened beverages.

The government is also considering taxes on sugary drink makers and importers, and even a total ban on the sale of some beverages, the ministry said in a statement Thursday, according to the report.

Singapore’s action appears to go further than measures in other countries such as Mexico and Britain, which restrict when advertisements for high-calorie food and drinks can be shown on television to limit their exposure to children, Reuters noted.

The Coca-Cola Company, the world’s biggest beverage maker, said it welcomes the plans and will work to reduce sugar levels in its drinks sold in Singapore.

“We will continue to rethink many of our recipes in Singapore to reduce sugar, because while sugar in moderation is fine, we agree that too much of it is not good for anyone,” Ahmed Yehia, country manager for Coca-Cola Singapore and Malaysia, was quoted as saying.

“We foresee minimal impact on our portfolio from this announcement,” he added.

Singapore’s health ministry said it will consult consumers, drink makers and the advertising industry in coming months over the measures. It did not give a timeline for implementation.

The curbs on sugary drink ads come as Singapore has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, partly caused by its fast-ageing population and a culture of eating out at inexpensive hawker centers, Reuters noted.