Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A magazine ad for Healthy House electromagnetic protection devices featured extracts from WHO (World Health Organization) and European Parliamentary Assembly papers such as "radiofrequency electromagnetic fields classified as possibly carcinogenic" and offered "advice on reducing your exposure to electromagnetic fields". The ad stated "To see our wide range of detective and protective products: [URL]" and featured four of these products, each with an image. Under the heading "Air Low Radiation Earphones" text stated "Reduces radiation at the head by over 99% Helps guard against potential mobile phone use health risks" and under the heading "Blocsock Mobile Phone Shield" text stated "Helps reduce the radiation from your mobile phone penetrating into your head and body".
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the implication in the ad that electromagnetic radiation posed a risk to health was misleading and could be substantiated; and
2. the claims that "Air Low Radiation Earphones" and "Blocsock Mobile Phone Shield" had an effect on electromagnetic radiation were misleading and could be substantiated.
The Healthy House Ltd acknowledged the complaint, but declined to comment on the case.
The ASA was disappointed that The Healthy House Ltd did not engage with the investigations process.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA noted that the extracts quoted in the ad referred to health problems relating to electromagnetic radiation, including the potential for it to be a carcinogen. We also noted that the ad made several references to protection and the reduction of exposure, and considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ad that electromagnetic radiation could cause a risk to health. We noted that The Healthy House had not provided any evidence to demonstrate that electromagnetic radiation posed a risk to health, or that the products featured had an effect on electromagnetic radiation. Although we acknowledged that many of the references to the potential ill-effects of electromagnetic radiation were extracts from official papers, we considered that isolated extracts of this kind, in the absence of other evidence or the wider context of the research in which they were set, were likely to mislead. We therefore concluded that the claims in the ad were misleading and had not been substantiated.
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. (Medicines, medical devices, health-related products and beauty products).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told The Healthy House Ltd to ensure that they held evidence to support their claims.