Following changing public attitudes in a number of areas and the requirements of the Equality Act 2010, CAP and BCAP have both announced consultations on changing the rules in the CAP Code and BCAP Code (the Codes) relating to serious or widespread offence, rolling papers and sanitary protection products. 

CAP and BCAP have both announced a consultation on changing the rules relating to serious or widespread offence, rolling papers and sanitary protection products. The consultations close on 13 September 2019. The last large-scale review of the Codes occurred in 2010, prior to the Equality Act 2010 (the Act), and CAP and BCAP have noted how changes would aid in strengthening the protections in the Codes. 

CAP Code 

Rule 4.1 states that marketing communications must not cause widespread or serious offence and must give particular care to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and/or age.  A number of complaints have been upheld by the ASA under Rule 4.1 regarding the treatment of gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sex and belief in advertising and the consultation seeks views on whether these characteristics should also be added to the list.

Rule 21.5 imposes restrictions on advertising of rolling papers and filters if more than 25% of its audience is or likely to be males under 18 years of age and females under 24 years of age. These ages and percentages were set based on research which pre-dated the Equality Act 2010. CAP suggests that Rule 21.5 is updated to ensure the rule is equal for males and females regardless of age or the proportion in the audience. 


Rule 4.2 states advertisements must not cause serious or widespread offence. The consultation recommends that the protected characteristics of gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, sex and belief should be added to the list of characteristics in the in alignment with the CAP Code. 

Rule 32.6.1 pre-dates the Equality Act 2010 and prevents sanitary protection products being advertised during or adjacent to programmes aimed at children under 10. The consultation highlights that current attitudes towards the advertising of sanitary protection products have changed and as a result this rule should be removed from the BCAP Code. 

AG Comment

These changes are unlikely to controversial with advertisers, given that they simply reflect changes in equality law and changing social attitudes. However, businesses that feel strongly should consider responding to the consultation to provide their views and keep in mind the proposed changes to the Codes in future advertising. Following the consultations, CAP and BCAP intend to consider all responses and an evaluation and outcome (including confirmation of the changes to the Codes) will be published on the ASA website.

Key Contacts

Hayley Anderson

Hayley Anderson

Associate, Commercial
Manchester, UK

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