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In its response to the open public consultation on Digital Services Act (DSA) package announced by the European Commission, the European Public Health Alliance recommends the development of an EU-wide regulatory baseline setting a high level of health protection to minimise the exposure of children and youth to cross-border digital commercial communications for alcohol and unhealthy foods.

There is much evidence that children and young people are exposed to online commercial communications for obesogenic foods and alcohol, as well as convincing evidence that exposure of children to the marketing of such products influences their consumption patterns with potential health implications throughout their lives. Unhealthy diet and alcohol use are primary risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, respiratory diseases, representing over 85% of all deaths and 75% of all diseases in Europe. Even when a government has chosen not to make certain marketing practices illegal through statutory legislation, unhealthy food and alcohol marketing are increasingly perceived as raising children’s rights issues.

EPHA believes that greater action to regulate digital services will contribute to the EU’s health objectives, for instance Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, facilitating the work of national regulators and providing a more equal level playing field for businesses, therefore improving the functioning of the internal market. 

EPHA also calls on the European Commission to take action to tackle online activities which cause harm, with a potentially negative impact on people’s physical or mental health, to protect public health and people’s fundamental rights.