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Ads promoting cosmetic interventions to under-18s banned

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

November 25, 2021 | 3 min read

A blanket ban of ads promoting cosmetic interventions to under-18s follows a joint consultation between the Committee for Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Broadcasting Committee for Advertising Practice (BCAP) into the potential body image and mental health harms caused by cosmetic intervention ads.

Evidence from the consultation, which closed in October, also considered the risks and potential complications of cosmetic procedures.

CAP & BCAP bans cosmetic intervention ads to under 18's

CAP and BCAP have banned cosmetic intervention ads to under-18s

The Advertising Standards Association (ASA), which is tasked with interpreting the CAP’s new cosmetic codes, already investigates complaints of this kind if a campaign is considered socially irresponsible or harmful advertising. The ASA said the formal ban will protect young people and “harmonize standards” across the cosmetic sector.

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The ban comes as a number of influencers – including former Love Island contestants Belle Hassan and Kendall Rae Knight – have been called out for promoting cosmetic surgery sites to teenagers.

The CAP has defined cosmetic interventions as any procedure or treatment carried out with the primary objective of changing an aspect of someone’s physical appearance. The ban doesn’t include cosmetic products such as creams, face masks, makeup and sunless tanning products.

Under the new rules, ads won’t be allowed on TV or radio around programs directed at under-18s, on non-broadcast media that targets that demo or where under-18s make up at least 25% of the overall audience.

“Because of the inherent risks of cosmetic intervention procedures, and the potential appeal of these services to young people struggling with body confidence issues, it’s important we set the bar necessarily high in terms of marketing,” said Shahriar Coupal, director of the CAP.

For over-18s, the ASA will continue to assess complaints that downplay the risks to treatments and ads that promote a narrow beauty ideal, as well as misleading efficacy or pricing claims.

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