Government backs the ASA’s cosmetic surgery ads ruling

The Government has rejected MPs’ demands for a new law to curb ads for cosmetic surgery despite growing concern that the public is being misled.

The Government has rejected MPs’ demands for a new law to curb ads

for cosmetic surgery despite growing concern that the public is being

misled.



The decision by the health secretary, Alan Milburn, is a boost for the

Advertising Standards Authority, which was accused of ’apparent

impotence’ and failing to protect the public by the Commons Health

Select Committee (Campaign, 23 July).



Replying to the MPs’ report this week, Milburn admitted that marketing

by cosmetic surgery clinics posed problems but backed the ASA’s view,

saying: ’These go beyond the limited field of advertising.’



The Government dismissed the MPs’ view that the director-general of fair

trading’s powers to control advertising were inadequate.



It also rejected the MPs’ proposal that ads for cosmetic surgery should

carry a health warning. ’There are possible risks associated with

cosmetic surgery, but when properly conducted these risks are usually

small and not exclusive to cosmetic surgery,’ it said.



The Government conceded normal advertising controls might not be enough

to ensure information to patients reached an acceptable standard. It

will now consider other avenues - including the ASA’s proposal for a

register so that people can find out the qualifications of surgeons.



Milburn’s decision follows a lobbying campaign by the ASA, whose

director-general, Matti Alderson, wrote to ministers urging them to

reject the MPs’ findings.



Caroline Crawford, ASA director of communications, welcomed the

Government’s ruling as ’very sensible’.



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