Commercial advertising directed at children under the age of 13 is prohibited by virtue of sections 248 and 249 of the Quebec Consumer Protection Act.
To determine whether or not an advertisement is directed at children, account must be taken of the context of its presentation as defined by the following three criteria:
a. Nature and destination of the product advertised (What? For whom?)
b. Manner of presenting the advertisement (How?)
c. Time and place it is shown (When? Where?)
The application guide for sections 248 and 249 explains these criteria and gives examples for illustrative purposes.
The provisions of the law targeting advertising directed at children have existed for over 30 years and were among the first in world to be adopted. Improvements are therefore needed to make them more effective.
The Regulation respecting the application of the Consumer Protection Act lists a number of exemptions to the Act. In other words, some advertising to children is still allowed. This is the case in particular for:
As it happens, some of these exemptions are used today to evade the spirit of the law in order to reach young people. This is the case in particular for the store displays, containers, wrappings and labels of numerous food products that abound with advertising (e.g., amusing images, characters, cross-promotions involving TV or movie heroes, direct allusions to fun or play on packaging, funny names, children’s games or riddles, unusual shapes/colours/flavours, childlike display units in stores).
Given the numerous health problems related to a poor diet and knowing that 89% of food products targeted at children in Canadian supermarkets are of poor nutritional value , the exemption regarding this type of advertising should be reconsidered in light of its negative influence on children’s eating habits.
 Elliott, C. (2008) Assessing « fun foods » : nutritional content and analysis of supermarket foods targeted at children. Obesity reviews, 9, 368–377.
Hence, the complaints procedure should be made easier and more accessible to allow anyone to report illegal practices by industry at any time.
SOM survey conducted on behalf of the Weight Coalition in April 2007