Food and Drink Bans of the Future

What will the health police proscribe next? The London Times predicts 10 potential bans—from family pallbearing (coffin-carrying should, apparently, be left to the professionals) to multiple-dog walking (because packs of more than four mutts are believed to be dangerous)—with a few food- and drink-themed restrictions thrown into the mix.

It’s no surprise that trans fats are on the potential bans-to-be list, as New York City is planning to prohibit them by July 2008, and Denmark has already outlawed any food containing more than 2 percent trans fats. But the UK could be the first to put a ban on junk food commercials:

Last April, research linking junk food advertising to teenage obesity led Ofcom, which regulates broadcasters, to outlaw all TV and radio adverts that promote sugary, salty or fatty foods and are targeted at children under 9. At the end of this year the rule will extend to 15-year-olds.

Meanwhile, the Alcohol Health Alliance is lobbying against alcohol ads; France already forbids alcohol commercials, and Lithuania prohibits advertising alcohol on TV between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Granted, we could all live without trans fats—and those of us who aren’t working in the advertising industry will do just fine without alcohol and junk food commercials—but the biggest bummer of all the potential bans is the one on lunchtime drinking. During my last trip to London, I was amazed by the number of beers being guzzled by worker bees on their lunch breaks. It can’t be good for productivity, but lunchtime boozing seemed like a local institution—though it might not last for long:

A survey by the law firm Browne Jacobson claims that 57 per cent of businesses ban drinking altogether during working hours, including lunchtime. The figure was 40 per cent ten years ago.

Ironically enough, the giant Belgian brewer InBev, which is responsible for Beck’s, Leffe, and Stella Artois, has already banned lunchtime drinking at its corporate headquarters.

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