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The ASA's New Year Health Kick

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United Kingdom

The turn of the new year always seems to get people thinking about their health and personal appearance. From dry January to post Christmas diets to new gym subscriptions. The Committee of Advertising Practice ("CAP") has today addressed two areas of concern in this area: Botox social media ads; and weight-loss and detox ads. 1. Botox ads in social media

CAP, together with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency ("MHRA"), has issued an Enforcement Notice to the beauty and cosmetic services industry on advertising Botox and other botulinum toxin injections on social media platforms. This is to address the appearance of social media ads, despite the fact that Botox cannot be advertised to the public. This is the furthest-reaching enforcement notice ever issued by CAP, targeting over 130,000 of the wide-ranging businesses within the cosmetics services industry. It requires the businesses to review ads and make immediate changes. This includes paid-for ads, non-paid for posts and influencer marketing.

CAP also proposes to use new monitoring technology 3o1 January to flag problem ads for removal and advertisers breaching the rules run the risk of being referred to the MHRA or their professional regulatory body.

2. Weight-loss and detox ads

CAP has also issued guidance in relation to weight-loss adverts and detoxing, encouraging advertisers to:
  • hold evidence to support their claims;
  • be realistic about likely weight loss;
  • advertise their products and services in a responsible manner;
  • avoid references to obesity;
  • be careful not to imply efficacy claims or exaggerate the effects of their products and services when using before and after images;
  • avoid claims of reducing or eradicating cellulite;
  • avoid implying that “detoxing” products such as wraps, patches or devices can aid weight or fat loss as a result of flushing away toxins. Any suggestion that an accumulation of toxins can lead to adverse medical conditions, or that a product can prevent these, should also be avoided;
  • avoid miracle clothing claims i.e. that they aid weight or fat loss;
  • avoid claims and images that could cause offence; and
  • not appeal to under 18s or those who would have a harmful BMI as a result of the diet.
For more information on these topics, please contact Sonal Patel Oliva or David Bond within Fieldfisher's Advertising & Marketing Law Team.

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