An advert made by an organisation opposed to water fluoridation has been given the all clear.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it received six complaints about the advert, which screened on TV3 nine times between July 29 and August 6.
Complainants said the advert contained misleading information and played on fear, but in a new decision the ASA’s complaints board ruled to not uphold the complaints.
The board decision said the advert showed images of a factory with two tall, smoking chimneys, water being piped into glass containers, a beautiful lake in a mountainous area, a worker holding a large plastic container wearing protective clothing and water being poured into a drinking glass.
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A voiceover, by a man with a deep, authoritative voice, described how hydrofluorosilicic acid, commonly known as fluoride, was collected from the chimneys of the fertiliser industry and added to our drinking water.
The voiceover also said this fluoride chemical was banned from being released into the air sea, lakes and rivers because it is toxic to animals and the environment.
The decision said comments made in the advert were fact-based statements, backed up with evidence provided by the advertiser.
Although some of the imagery could be seen to have encouraged a frightened response, the advertiser had a justifiable reason in the circumstances, the decision said.
The advertiser was conveying information about the water fluoridation process, and expressing its personal view.
The board agreed the advert was provocative and could be offensive to people and groups with an opposite viewpoint.
“However … an alternative view did not make it misleading and robust opinion was allowable.”
The advert did not conflate opinion and fact, as it was clearly presented from a particular perspective and met the provisions of robust opinion.
A minority of the board did find the advert breached parts of the Advertising Code of Ethics – that adverts should be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, and should not play on fear. That was due to the upsetting tone of the advert and the way it encouraged fear, particularly for vulnerable consumers.
Fluoride Free NZ is fighting a Government proposal to put water fluoridation decisions in the hands of district health boards, rather than local councils, which is expected to lead to more water supplies being fluoridated.