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San Diego-based Jack in the Box has become the first major fast food chain to stop offering toys with its children’s meals, Reuters reported today. Fast food restaurants have come under increasing pressure to drop the toys, which opponents say entice children and their parents to make poor eating decisions and are the focus of $360 million per year in advertising, more than half of the restaurants’ advertising budgets. San Francisco and Santa Clara County have gone so far as to ban the offering of a toy unless the meal it accompanies meets certain nutritional standards.

"While we've been aware of efforts to ban the inclusion of toys in kids' meals, that did not drive our decision," said Brian Luscomb, a company spokesperson. Randy Carmical, also representing Jack in the Box, emphasized that "Our advertising and promotions have focused exclusively on the frequent fast-food customer, not children." He also noted that the restaurant is offering healthier kids’ choices such as grilled chicken strips, and the elimination of toys coincided with parents being offered a choice of apple slices and caramel sauce instead of french fries for a side item.

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