Adverts promoting products considered to have a detrimental impact on public health, air pollution, or climate change could be banned from bus stops, billboards and advertising spaces in Exeter. Green Party councillor, Amy Sparling, will put forward a motion proposing an ‘Ethical Advertising Policy’ as part of the council's planning policies and to be included in the Local Plan . The motion includes a “presumption against planning permission for all new digital advertising screens in the city,” due to the high energy use of such screens.
Councillor Sparling’s motion will require the support of Labour councillors to become policy. She will argue there is evidence to show that banning certain adverts can have positive impacts on health and the environment. She said:
“We know that advertising can be bad for people and planet and that removing adverts for certain products can have positive outcomes. For example, an advertising ban on junk food across the Transport for London network resulted in a drop in purchases of unhealthy food and drink, and is estimated to have prevented 100,000 obesity cases and is leading to long term savings for the NHS of some £200 million .
“Additionally, many advertisers are switching to digital boards which consume huge amounts of energy. A double-sided digital bus stop advertising screen uses four times the electricity of an average British home, whilst a digital billboard can use eleven times the energy of an average home . This motion calls on councillors to adopt a presumption against planning permission for all new digital advertising screens in Exeter due to their intensive use of energy.
“Restricting advertising is not a new idea. It already applies to tobacco products and offensive weapons for example. There are also rules regarding marketing to children. So a Council Ethical Advertising Policy which aims to restrict advertising of products and services that impact detrimentally on public health, air pollution, or climate change could help improve the health of people in Exeter and contribute towards the city’s Net Zero target.”
 The motion is set to be presented at a full meeting of Exeter City Council on Tuesday 18th April 2023.
Text of motion