Regulators need to be more creative in promoting good health
Regulators need to be more creative when it comes to promoting good health instead of relying on stringent laws to change people’s behaviour, Mr Ron Cregan, the Founder of Endangered Species, has said.
Speaking at Africa Rising, the International Advertising Association’s annual summit in Ghana, Mr Cregan said drastic laws often had unintended and negative consequences such as fuelling an illegal trade in alcohol and counterfeit medication.
“Instead of scaring people into changing their behaviour, or punishing them in their pockets, legislators need to be more creative when it comes to protecting our health,” he said.
The issue of branding and its supposed power to get people to consume more has got lawmakers looking at using increasingly drastic legislation to dictate people’s behaviour, often with unintended and negative consequences such as fuelling an illegal trade in alcohol and counterfeit medication.
Mr Cregan said unfortunately health warnings and marketing restrictions on packaging seldom change consumer behaviour.
He said there were more effective ways to promote responsible consumption of products, including fizzy drinks, fast food, alcohol and sugar through packaging design.
“No one is suggesting that obesity or excessive alcohol consumption is not a global problem. But instead of health warnings and brand censorship, we could use smart phone technology to unlock information and create health codes - a scannable QR code which consumers can use to access live nutritional and health information from around the world.
The technology stays the same, with the health information being translated to suit the end user. The QR code logo is a compatible alternative, designed to sit alongside existing brand designs.”
Mr Cregan called for a practical health debate around responsible consumption, but unproven, draconian legislation cannot be them solution.
“Brand identity is a fundamental right for brand owners and proposed government measures will have a devastating impact on global brands including much loved favourites, which are part of our cultural heritage as well as artisan producers who will be denied the right to express their identity.
“Creating positive and educational messages that will help change consumer behaviour and avoid misunderstanding is well within the design community’s capabilities, legislators just need to be more creative in their approach to promoting good health,” he added.
On his part, Mr Seth Seaneke, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority, said the Authority had to be tough on the regulation of media advertisements related to alcoholic beverages.
It is in this connection that the Authority in January 2018 restricted advertisements of alcoholic beverages in the media to periods between 2000 hours and 0600 hours to prevent children from being exposed to them.
Mr Seaneke said the FDA aside the imposition of restrictions on when to air adverts on alcoholic beverages, it has also placed a ban on some drugs deemed harmful to the health of Ghanaians, adding that the guiding principle of the FDA is the protection of public health and safety.