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Aromatherapy & The Advertising (ASA) Codes

Posted by admin at 17:57 on 3 Apr 2021


All registrants have a duty of care to protect the health and wellbeing of their clients, part of which is to ensure the profession is described honestly, accurately and legally.

What does the IFA’s code of conduct, ethics and performance say about advertising?

D. Registrants must justify public confidence in aromatherapy

D11. Advertising Your Practice

When advertising your practice, you must ensure the content:

  1.  Is accurate, factual, legal and responsible.
  2. Only includes claims that are backed by evidence – case studies, research etc. Please note research is ever evolving and may not always be to a sufficient standard to rely on to substantiate claims you make in your advertising.
  3. Do not make claims to cure a client or guarantee successful treatment for a medical condition. This not only abuses the public’s trust and confidence in the profession but can also break the law e.g. Cancer Act.
  4. Must not undermine another health practitioner or discipline.
  5. Must not support or condone a product about which claims are made that cannot be justified.
  6. Must not put pressure on people to use your services. The IFA does not approve of pyramid selling.
  7. Do not bring the profession into disrepute.

These principles are not limited to advertisements but extend to all dealings with the public whether provided orally or otherwise. All advertisements must comply with the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) code of practice. If you are in any doubt you should check your advertisements with these organisations before going to print.

Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Codes

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the organisation responsible for administering the CAP Codes and for receiving complaints about advertising.

See here for their guidance on advertising aromatherapy

Please pay particular attention to the following rules under Section 12:

12.1 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.

12.2 Marketers must not discourage essential treatment for conditions for which medical supervision should be sought. For example, they must not offer specific advice on, diagnosis of or treatment for such conditions unless that advice, diagnosis or treatment is conducted under the supervision of a suitably qualified health professional. Accurate and responsible general information about such conditions may, however, be offered (see rule 12.11).

Health professionals will be deemed suitably qualified only if they can provide suitable credentials, for example, evidence of: relevant professional expertise or qualifications; systems for regular review of members' skills and competencies and suitable professional indemnity insurance covering all services provided; accreditation by a professional or regulatory body that has systems for dealing with complaints and taking disciplinary action and has registration based on minimum standards for training and qualifications.

To contact them you can email them or by telephone 020 7492 2100

Please note that the Copy Advice team are unable to assess the suitability or robustness of any signposted clinical evidence only in the event of an ASA investigation into your claims. However, the ASA have advised it unlikely that the ASA would accept a single study for substantiation for each of these claims - you might find their guidance on the level of substantiation for health, beauty and slimming claims useful.

For more information

Registrants, please login to the members area to download the crib sheet which provides specific examples and a tailored description for use on our website, which is exclusive to IFA PSA registered aromatherapists and agreed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).