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Massachusetts House Bill 450: An Act Relative to the
Public Health Impact of Commercialism in Schools

 

The Problem:  School-aged children are bombarded with advertisements. They see an average of 30,000 commercials on television alone, and television is only one of the myriad ways children are exposed to advertising. Whereas marketers spent $100 million in the early 1980s targeting children, they now spend approximately $17 billion. Schools have become an increasingly popular place for companies to market their products to a captive audience of students as many cash-strapped school districts use advertising revenue in attempt to plug budget gaps. In 2000, the General Accounting Office identified marketing in schools as a growth industry.  Marketing is a factor in childhood obesity, youth violence, precocious and irresponsible sexuality, eating disorders, family conflict, and increased materialism among youth.

Children spend seven hours a day – or a third or their day – in school. More than 7 out of 10 Massachusetts school districts have contracts with beverage companies permitting the sale of their products on school grounds. Massachusetts schoolchildren are also exposed to advertising in their hallways, cafeterias, and on school buses, as well as through corporate-sponsored teaching materials and newscasts like Channel One.

 

The Solution:  Representative Peter Koutoujian’s bill, “An Act Relative to the Public Health Impact of Commercialism in Schools,” would prohibit companies from advertising their products on public school grounds. It would also prohibit companies from providing any type of promotional items or gifts – other than their primary products – which bear the mark or brand name of the manufacturer’s products. It is the strongest school commercialism legislation in the country and would provide children with a need safe-haven from advertising and marketing that undermines their wellbeing.

Click here to read the text of the bill

CCFC strongly supports this historic legislation and has been working closely with Representative Koutoujian to help ensure its passage. 

On May 30, 2007, the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Public Health held a hearing on HB 489, an earlier version of the Massachusetts school commercialism bill.   CCFC organized panels of testifiers in support of the bill - you can read what they said below:

Elle Goldberg, Massachusetts PTA

Diane Levin, PhD, CCFC co-founder, and Professor of Education, Wheelock College

Susan Linn, EdD, CCFC co-founder, and author, Consuming Kids

Juliet Schor, author, Born to Buy, and Professor of Sociology, Boston College

Mary Ann Stewart, concerned parent, Lexington, Massachusetts

Lin Vickory, concerned parent and activist against Channel One, Lunenberg, Massachusetts

Letter of support from the Public Health Advocacy Institute

                                      
 

 

 

MORE ON HB450

 

Complete Text of the Legislation

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Press:

 

Mass. lawmakers weigh ban on all marketing in schools (AP, 6/3/2007)

 

Women take their fight against school ads to Boston (Worcester Star-Telegram, 5/31/07)

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Testimony and Letters of Support for the 2007 version of the ball.:

 

Elle Goldberg, Massachusetts PTA

 

Diane Levin, PhD, CCFC co-founder, and Professor of Education, Wheelock College

 

Susan Linn, EdD, CCFC co-founder, and author, Consuming Kids

 

Juliet Schor, author, Born to Buy, and Professor of Sociology, Boston College

 

Jason Smith, Public Health Advocacy Institute

 

Mary Ann Stewart, concerned parent, Lexington, Massachusetts

 

Lin Vickory, concerned parent and activist against Channel One, Lunenberg, Massachusetts

   

STAY INFORMED

 

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Copyright 2004 Commercial Free Childhood. All rights reserved