Claims about health and beauty products and treatments should be backed by substantiation including the results of practical trials on human subjects of sufficient rigour, design and execution as to warrant general acceptance of the results.
No reference should be made to tests, trials or endorsements by any college, hospital, clinic, laboratory or similar establishment unless there exists a bona fide establishment corresponding to the description used and it is under the effective supervision of a registered medical practitioner or other appropriate professional. Reference to such establishment should be made only with the express permission of the appropriate authorities.
Marketing communications for health and beauty products or treatments should not include representations of individuals which give the impression of professional advice or recommendations unless such persons are suitably qualified.
Any scientific information in a marketing communication should be presented in an accurate manner. Scientific terminology should be appropriate, clearly communicated and be capable of being readily understood by the audience to whom it is directed.
Marketing communications should not offer any product or treatment for serious or prolonged ailments or for conditions requiring the attention of a registered medical or other qualified practitioner.
Marketing communications for a health product or treatment:
(a) should not contain any offer to diagnose, advise, prescribe or treat by correspondence (correspondence includes by phone, post, internet, email and fax);
(b) should not encourage indiscriminate, unnecessary or excessive use of the product or treatment;
(c) should not suggest that the product or treatment is safe or effective merely because it is “natural”, nor should it refer to the omission of any ingredient in a way that suggests that the ingredient is unsafe or harmful;
(d) should not employ words, phrases or illustrations that claim or imply the cure of any ailment, disability, illness or disease, as distinct from the alleviation or relief of symptoms;
(e) should not claim that the product has no side effects unless such claims are fully substantiated;
(f) should not cause unwarranted anxiety or suggest that any product or treatment is necessary for the maintenance of health;
(g) should not use unfamiliar scientific terms for common conditions.
Advertisers inviting consumers
to diagnose their own minor ailments should not make claims that might lead to a mistaken diagnosis.
Advertisers offering individual treatments, particularly those that are physically invasive, may be asked to provide, prior to publication, full details of the treatments together with information about those who would supervise and administer them. Consumers should be encouraged to take independent medical advice before committing themselves to significant treatments.
Marketing communications for any products offering to deter the habit of smoking should make it clear that they offer only assistance,
are not cures and that any success will necessarily be dependent on the willpower of the user.
Claims about the effect that a cosmetic has on or in the skin should distinguish between the composition of the product and any effects caused by the mode of application, such as massage.
References to the relief of symptoms or the superficial signs of ageing are acceptable if they can be substantiated. Unqualified claims such as “cure” and “rejuvenation” are not generally acceptable.
Marketing communications should not suggest that a product or treatment will achieve success in every case or that the outcome can be other than dependent on the particular circumstances of the individual person.
Vitamins,Minerals and Food Supplements
Marketing communications should not suggest or imply that a well balanced diet needs to be augmented by vitamins or minerals on a regular basis. Advertisers may offer supplements as a safeguard and may refer to the vitamin and mineral content of a particular product but should not suggest that there is a widespread vitamin or mineral deficiency. Marketing communications should not imply that supplements will guard against dietary deficiency, elevate mood or enhance performance and supplements should not be promoted as a substitute for a healthy diet.Marketing communications should not claim that a food supplement is capable of preventing, treating or curing disease.
Marketing communications may promote vitamin and mineral supplementation to certain categories of people, e.g. those who eat nutritionally inadequate meals, the elderly, children and adolescents, convalescents, athletes in training, those who pursue physically very active occupations or recreations, women of child-bearing age and dieters.
Although there may be some depletion of vitamin stores during illness, a marketing communication should not suggest that the replacement of such vitamins will influence the speed or extent of recovery. The prescribing of vitamins and minerals in such cases is a matter for a doctor and self-medication should not be encouraged.
Hair and Scalp
Marketing communications should not claim that a particular product or treatment can prevent baldness or slow it down, arrest or reverse hair loss, stimulate or improve hair growth, nourish hair roots, strengthen the hair or improve its health (as distinct from its appearance) unless the claim can be substantiated in accordance with the requirements of 8.1 above.
Hair transplantation and re-positioning should both be regarded as physically invasive treatments – (see 8.8 above).
Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Marketing communications for alternative and complementary products and services, including those for natural, herbal and traditional remedies, are subject to the requirements of the Code.
The advertising of medical preparations and cosmetic products is governed by a number of other codes and Statutory Regulations, some of which are listed in Appendix II.