What is the “Ban The Bags” campaign?
It has been a common practice for infant formula companies to distribute bags containing formula samples, coupons and other advertising to maternity patients in hospitals. These free “gift” bags have been shown to increase formula sales and decrease the duration of breastfeeding. This strategy is successful as a marketing practice because the bags are given to mothers by healthcare providers, who appear implicitly to be promoting the use of formula. “Ban the Bags” is a national campaign to stop formula company marketing in maternity hospitals. All Maryland maternity hospitals now are free of infant formula marketing, including company-sponsored discharge bags. Maryland joins Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Delaware in making this transition. We hope that all states will join this campaign and help end a practice that costs parents money and leads to negative health outcomes for mothers and babies.
The Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition fully supports the “Ban the Bags” campaign. We have prepared a brief presentation for health professionals to highlight the research regarding the effects of formula discharge bags and suggest how hospitals can approach banning the bags. This presentation can be found athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNxp-0bm-Ms We encourage you to view and share it with other health care providers. The presentation is also available here for you to download.
Maryland Hospitals Who Have Banned the Bag
Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition commends the following hospitals in Maryland who have gone bag free:
Several resources are available to healthcare providers and consumers to stop formula company marketing in maternity hospitals:
The “Ban the Bags” campaign grew out of efforts in Massachusetts to stop aggressive formula company marketing tactics in hospitals The national campaign is working to educate consumers on the issue and encourage health care professionals and families in this effort. The campaign offers a Tool Kit, which includes educational materials developed by the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition and Ban the Bags, as well as letters of support from regional and national organizations.
To learn more about the “Ban the Bags” campaign, visit http://www.banthebags.org
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that was founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts. The organization offers information to citizens on how to become more involved in consumer advocacy. Recently it has supported the Ban the Bags initiative. As part of its advocacy program, it is circulating a petition calling on the three major formula companies to stop marketing infant formula to new mothers in hospitals. It has also provides a copy of a letter they sent to over 2600 hospital administrators to stop the marketing of formula in their hospitals.
For more information on Public Citizen, visit http://www.citizen.org/infant-formula
Read the latest press release on Ban the Bags Campaign from Public Citizen and the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition.
Rosenberg, K.D., Eastham, C.A., Kasehagen, L.J., & Sandoval, A.P. (2008). Marketing infant formula through hospitals: The impact of commercial hospital discharge packs on breastfeeding. American Journal of Public Health, 98(2), 290-295. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2006.103218
Sadacharan, R., Grossman, X., Sanchez, E. & Merewood, A. (2011). Trends in U.S. hospital distribution of industry-sponsored infant formula. Pediatrics, 128(4), 702-705. doi: 10.1542/ peds.2011-0983
United States Breastfeeding Committee. (2011). Statement on marketing of human milk substitutes.Washington, DC: United States Breastfeeding Committee.