UK watchdog bans ad equating eating meat to smoking
Two complaints made over People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ad
Reacting to the ban, a Peta spokesman said: “We are befuddled by the ASA’s ruling . . . The link between meat consumption and the increased risk of heart disease and cancer has been repeatedly documented in studies and medical reports.”
Animal rights campaigners in Britain have been forbidden to use a billboard campaign showing a child smoking a cigar, which warns that eating meat increases the risk of cancer.
Warning the advertisement was “misleading”, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said claims that eating any kind of meat increased the risk had not been “proven beyond doubt”.
The campaign from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) declares: “You Wouldn’t Let Your Child Smoke. Like smoking, eating meat increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. Go vegan!”
Defending itself against two complaints, the campaign group quoted several medical studies.
One of these, from the US-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), recommended that all animal products should be avoided because they contained cholesterol, which was linked to heart problems.
However, the British advertising authority noted that one of the studies lodged by Peta in defence of the advert was related to post-menopausal women only, while two other studies “looked at the overall effect of a vegetarian diet, rather than specifically studying the effect of eating meat on increased heart disease (IHD) risk”.
“We considered that because the ad likened the risks associated with eating any kind of meat to the risks of smoking, consumers would understand from the ad that the connection between eating any kind of meat and the risk of heart disease and cancer had been proven beyond doubt, which was clearly not the case, and we therefore concluded that the ad was misleading,” it ruled.
Reacting to the ban, a Peta spokesman said: “We are befuddled by the ASA’s ruling on our billboard highlighting the fact that eating meat increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. The link between meat consumption and the increased risk of heart disease and cancer has been repeatedly documented in studies and medical reports.”
Researchers from Oxford University had, he said, recently published an investigation into the diets of 45,000 people in England and Scotland, comparing heart disease rates between those who ate meat and those who didn’t.
The study, funded by Cancer Research UK and the UK Medical Research Council, “found that vegetarians had a 32 per cent lower risk of becoming ill or dying from heart disease than non-vegetarians”, even when adjustments were made to discount the effect of age, sex, weight and smoking habits.