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Maya cigarette ad challenges kids’ characters on unhealthy foods

16:23 23/05/2018

Greenpeace Belgium has launched a campaign against local entertainment mogul Studio 100’s use of children’s characters to sell unhealthy foods. It has created a video ad for Maya the Bee cigarettes for children.

The cigarettes come in “small packages for little hands,” says the ad, and contain “the best tobacco with a delicious hint of honey flavour.”

The processed meats, crisps and sweets featuring Studio 100 characters such as the Maya the bee, Plopsa the gnome and Bumba the clown are also extremely unhealthy, according to Greenpeace.

Greenpeace spokesperson Sebastien Snoeck told VRT that the ad is of course an exaggeration but that the organisation “wants to pose the question of whether we really think it’s normal that a company that profiles itself as ethically aware is encouraging children to eat charcuterie”.

Company should ‘help parents, not the opposite’

Processed meats are known for their high salt content and for the presence of nitrites and nitrates, which have been linked to cancer. Consumption of processed meats has also been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and an increased risk of chronic diseases.

“Nutritionists advise against eating processed meats, especially children,” said Snoeck. “I expect that a company like Studio 100 would help me as a parent, not make it extra hard to convince my kids to eat healthy food.”

It is not the first time that an organisation has called Studio 100 to order for the use of its well-known characters on processed foods. Two  years ago, consumer organisation Test-Achats joined family support network Gezinsbond for the No Junk Food 4 Kids campaign to teach parents how to avoid unhealthy foods, particularly those, like sandwich meats, marketed as healthy. It pointed out that nearly one-quarter of all food advertisements in Flanders feature a Studio 100 character.

Photo courtesy Greenpeace

Written by Lisa Bradshaw