The regulations governing advertising aimed at children could be expanded to include all types of marketing, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor said Tuesday.
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has proposed amending the rules for the protection of consumers so that it will be forbidden for businesses to use marketing methods that seek to mislead children and "exploit their ages, innocence and lack of experience."
Olmert also wants to ban techniques that encourage minors to get drunk and smoke cigarettes, or attempt to collect the personal details of children and people close to them.
The amendment gives a wide definition to the term "marketing methods" so that it includes every approach by a business to a minor which attempts to push the sales of the company's products, whether direct, indirect, exposed or hidden. The regulations would be similar to those that govern advertising on television, radio and in newspapers.
Olmert's proposals, which he has sent to the Knesset Economics Committee for approval, come after a five-year campaign by the National Council for the Child.
Executive director Yitzhak Kadman said that despite the long period of time, Olmert's proposals were "better late than never."
He explained that companies have bypassed the current advertising rules by offering children discounts or free gifts in order to advance sales.
"For example, it's forbidden to do an advert that encourages children to go on diets. However, there are instances of companies offering children presents or discounts in order that they buy diet products," he said in an interview.
He also provided an example of how one newspaper collected personal information from children while it was carrying out an in-school activity that was ostensibly designed to help prevent violence. It then used that knowledge to attempt to sell subscriptions to their parents.
Should the regulations be approved, the consumer protection department in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment would provide the supervision. Fines for individuals that breach the new rules would be a maximum of NIS 100,000 and for companies NIS 280,000.