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