A new set of codes will be considered as part of a wide-ranging investigation launched by the Department of Health today (15 August). Ministers are also seeking views on the “proportionality” of the current codes written by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and broadcast equivalent BCAP.
The review follows the controversy over the thousands of women given faulty breast implants by French company Poly Implant Prothese (PIP).
The scandal led the British Association of Aesthetic and Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) to call for an outright ban on advertising cosmetic procedures after claiming the industry was an “under regulated wild west”, a demand echoed by feminist group UK Feminista earlier this year, which slammed the “aggressive marketing techniques” used by some in the industry.
Despite the calls for a ban, a spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority, which rules on breaches of the CAP and BCAP codes, says the volume of complaints is relatively small with only a handful of campaigns censured in recent years. The ASA judges whether ads are harmful, irresponsible or misleading.
The probe – called for by health secretary Andrew Lansley – is being led by NHS Medical Director Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. He will be assisted by a panel including Marie Claire editor Trish Halpin that will report their findings to the Government by next March.
The investigation will also cover the regulation and safety of products used in surgery and the standard of practitioners.