An internet ad on Facebook for hypnotherapy featured text which stated "YOU CAN QUIT SMOKING". Further text stated "STOP SMOKING WITH EASE HYPNOSIS IS THE MOST SUCCESSFUL WAY TO STOP SMOKING 93% SUCCESS".
The complainant challenged whether the claim "Hypnosis … stop smoking 93% success" was misleading and could be substantiated.
Sirius Life Clinic said they used a hypnosis technique called the Rob Kelly Method for smoking cessation. They explained that this treatment consisted of two different components: a face-to-face discussion followed by a short hypnosis session. Sirius Life Clinic provided us with a copy of a study which contained the survey results of an online questionnaire taken by 107 clients who had paid to undergo the Rob Kelly Method at Rob Kelly's Cambridge Clinic. The study stated that 92.5% of participants reported that they had stopped smoking and that the average time in which a participant completed the questionnaire was 28.1 days after the treatment.
Sirius Life Clinic had provided us with a study which stated that 92.5% of participants had stopped smoking after being treated using the Rob Kelly Method. However, the questionnaire was self-administered and the average time in which a participant completed it was 28.1 days after the treatment. The ASA also noted that the claim "stop smoking with ease" placed no emphasis on the participation or action of the smoker. We considered that an advertiser should only quote a percentage success rate in relation to cessation of smoking and claim a method will easily assist a smoker to stop if they held rigorous substantiation. We did not consider a self-administered questionnaire to be robust enough to prove a definitive success rate. We also did not consider 28.1 days after the treatment to be sufficiently long enough for a participant to have claimed to have permanently stopped smoking. We therefore concluded the claim was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Objective claims must be backed by evidence, if relevant consisting of trials conducted on people. Substantiation will be assessed on the basis of the available scientific knowledge.
Medicinal or medical claims and indications may be made for a medicinal product that is licensed by the MHRA, VMD or under the auspices of the EMA, or for a CE-marked medical device. A medicinal claim is a claim that a product or its constituent(s) can be used with a view to making a medical diagnosis or can treat or prevent disease, including an injury, ailment or adverse condition, whether of body or mind, in human beings.
Secondary medicinal claims made for cosmetic products as defined in the appropriate European legislation must be backed by evidence. These are limited to any preventative action of the product and may not include claims to treat disease. and 12.8 12.8 Marketers must hold proof before claiming or implying that a minor addiction or a bad habit can be treated without effort from those suffering. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Sirius Life Clinic not to claim a specific percentage success rate unless they held robust substantiation.