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Advertising targeting children under 16: new legal restrictions


Law 30/2019 of 23 April introduced clear restrictions on advertising for children under 16 years of age of food and beverages containing high energy value, salt, sugar, saturated fatty acids and processed fatty acids.

With it, the Advertising Code has clearly restricted advertising for children and young people for foods with nutritional values ??considered harmful to health, such as cookies, chips, soda and chocolates, depending on of their nutritional value.

Although these restrictions came into force on June 22, 2019, the truth is that they will only gain real relevance from October 20, 2019. On this date, the order issued by the General Directorate for Health indicates the nutritional limit values from which foods exceeding these values will be subject to the new restrictions. Advertising is therefore prohibited for high energy foods and beverages on:

  • Kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools, including within 100 meters;
  • Public playgrounds, including, within a radius of 100 meters;
  • Sports, cultural and recreational activities organized by schools (kindergartens, basic and secondary);
  • Television programs, audiovisual media services, radio, within 30 minutes before and after children's programs;
  • Television programs which have a minimum of 25% of the audience below 16 years and at the respective breaks;
  • Movie theaters and movies with age rating for children under 16;
  • Publications intended for persons under 16 years of age;
  • Internet, through websites, social networks and mobile applications that require the use of the Internet and content intended for children under 16.

However, the advertising of such foods in commercial establishments has not been prohibited, for example, by placing marks on terrace furniture, awnings or in-store signs, even if they are located within a radius of less than 100 meters in schools and playgrounds.

As for the content of the advertising message itself, the restrictions now laid down in the law will not be absolutely new to the longest-lived companies in the Portuguese market, as many of them were already the result of self-regulatory food sector rules, but only applicable to companies that voluntarily subscribe to them as principles of good practice. Particularly noteworthy is the ban on the use in advertising of these foods figures, drawings, personalities and mascots related to programs intended for children - until now a mere principle of good practice in advertising directed at minors.

Last but not least, the infringement of the new legal restrictions will constitute a breach punishable by a fine of € 3,500 to € 45,000 if the infringer is a legal person. The Consumer General Directorate (Direção-Geral do Consumidor) is responsible for its supervision and sanction.

Inês de Sá 

Lúcia Marques Capucho

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