The Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) - the body responsible for writing the UK Advertising Codes – are launching a public consultation on introducing new rules that would prohibit advertising for cosmetic interventions from being directed at those under the age of 18 years.
The consultation responds to ongoing public health and political concerns about the potential harm of cosmetic interventions advertising on children and young people. At present, there are no legal restrictions on the advertising of cosmetic interventions to children and young people under the age of 18*.
The proposed new rules would apply across media, including online, and introduce age-based restrictions on the targeting, scheduling and placement of cosmetic interventions advertising. This would prohibit ads from being directed at those aged below 18 years through the selection of media or context in which they appear including in or adjacent to TV programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal particularly to audiences below the age of 18.
Examples of ads for cosmetic interventions that would be subject to the rules include: ads for breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (an operation to change the shape or size of the nose) and dermal fillers. Examples of cosmetic products that would not be subject to the new rules include: ads for cosmetic products such as creams, makeup and hair products.
In setting out its proposals CAP is aware of concerns expressed by senior NHS and public health figures about the insecurities and body image pressures that children and young people may experience and, by extension, that they might face undue pressures from ads for cosmetics interventions. Set alongside this, the inherent risks and potential complications of cosmetic intervention procedures and the potential detrimental impact on children and young people are key considerations in introducing new ad restrictions.
CAP acknowledges that individuals, including under-18s, may consider undergoing cosmetic interventions for a variety of reasons. The aim of these proposals is to better protect children by introducing age-based targeting restrictions while ensuring that cosmetic interventions can still be legitimately advertised to those aged 18 or above.
These proposals form part of a wider range of measures CAP is considering around the potential harm relating to body image from advertising and the impact on consumers’ mental health. This work is likely to include looking at advertising for cosmetic interventions, weight control and dieting products, weight-reduction regimes and establishments, amongst ads for other sectors and products. CAP will make further announcements on this in the coming months.
Director of the Committees, Shahriar Coupal said: “This is an important consultation which seeks views on a proposal to introduce tighter restrictions around the advertising of cosmetic interventions, strengthening protections for young people and better protecting them from potential harm.”
*medical doctors are the only group of practitioners within the cosmetic interventions sector to be subject to a mandatory age-based targeting and scheduling restrictions on cosmetic interventions advertising by their statutory professional standards governing body.