Online Program

Examining the legal authority of state attorneys general to limit digital food marketing to children

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mark A. Gottlieb, JD, at Northeastern Univ. School of Law, Public Health Advocacy Institute, Boston, MA
Cara Wilking, JD, Public Health Advocacy Institute, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston, MA
Jeff Chester, Center for Digital Democracy, Washington, DC
Lori Dorfman, DrPH, Public Health Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
Andrew Cheyne, CPhil, Research Team, Berkeley Media Studies Group, Berkeley, CA
We are in the midst of a great shift in food marketing tactics that has moved away from traditional media and point-of-purchase approaches and toward inter-related multi-platform and often immersive tactics directed at children that potentially violate state laws or point to gaps requiring enhanced regulatory oversight.

Investigators: a) reviewed relevant state law provisions in 10 states to understand whether they were amenable to action taken by state attorneys general to address digital food marketing that targets children; b) examined specific tactics and campaigns; and c) reviewed industry literature anticipating how these tactics may expand in the near future.

Preliminary findings have focused on ascertaining the potential for interventions by state legal authorities to address: 1) peer-to-peer children's digital marketing campaigns and 2) potentially deceptive gaming and contest promotions targeting children using a digital platform. Such tactics are frequently used to encourage sales of obesogenic products to children.

While the scope of authority for attorneys general vary by state and some state present legal obstacles (e.g., preemption), the findings suggest a need for state attorneys general who are concerned about stopping unfair and deceptive digital marketing tactics targeting children to collaborate in order to leverage the legal and investigatory tools at their disposal to encourage marketers to discontinue these practices.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe digital food marketing tactics targeting children. Identify which tactics may violate state consumer protection or other laws. Differentiate key features of states' consumer protection laws.

Keyword(s): Marketing, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a food lawyers with expertise in consumer protection law and am co-investigator for this study and primary author of the majority of deliverables.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4171.0: Food Environment & Marketing