October 5, 2022

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Australian author and beauty influencer Zoë Foster-Blake has criticised the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for its new advertising code, claiming it could hinder efforts to get more people wearing sunscreen.

In a lengthy blog post on her website, Foster-Blake said the code could “reverse the momentum” made in recent years in encouraging Australians to lather up before heading out in the sun.

“I believe elements of this code have the potential to reverse the momentum public health, cancer awareness groups, and skin specialists have been building for years to ensure Australians wear sunscreen daily,” she said.
Zoe Foster-Blake
Zoë Foster-Blake has criticised the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for its new advertising code. (Krisoffer Paulsen)

“Many consumers still believe sunscreen is gross, thick, greasy. It is not.

“We have spent many years making a product that aggressively disproves this, as have other modern sun protection brands. But if people don’t see other people’s honest reviews about the benefits of this sensory innovation: what would convince them to try sunscreen again?”

The new code, which came into effect on July 1 following a six-month transition period, prohibits publishing opinions on therapeutic and some non-therapeutic goods if the review has been incentivised, such as by payment or being gifted products.

It was introduced in an attempt to clamp down on misleading health product reviews, particularly on social media, and to prevent creating unrealistic expectations for would-be purchasers.

The code does not prevent influencers or anyone else from giving their opinion on sunscreen or other products if the review hasn’t been paid for or otherwise incentivised.

Busy Bondi beach on Christmas morning
Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Paid reviews are also still permitted, albeit with some restrictions, including that any partnership needs to be disclosed.

Foster-Blake acknowledged having regulatory restrictions around sunscreens are positive, but said the TGA’s code lacked critical nuance.

“I understand the code exists to protect the consumer; to stop frivolous, dangerous, and disingenuous reviews of medical products,” she said.

“But the code lacks critical nuance…

“I’m grateful the TGA takes sunscreen so seriously; Australia is a world leader in sun protection because of this. We have the toughest sun, and the toughest regulatory board. This is good for the consumer.

Which of these cars can go first?

“But not all therapeutic products fall under the same umbrella.

“I hope the TGA reconsiders the severe restrictions and breathtaking penalties around sunscreen testimonials and helps sunscreen manufacturers encourage Australians to wear sunscreen every day.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. According to the Cancer Council, 2000 Aussies die from the disease each year, and two-thirds of the population will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70.

The TGA has been approached for comment.

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