An anti-fluoridation website ad has been removed after it was found to have "unjustifiably played on fear".
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint about an advertisement on the Fluoride Free New Zealand website that stated doctors and dentists believed fluoride caused harm.
The advertisement said "informed doctors and dentists say keep fluoride out" and claimed swallowing fluoride was unsafe for babies, did not protect teeth and "can cause harm".
The complainant said the advertisement offered no differentiation between fact and opinion, and was misleading.
"The advertisement shows a disregard for public awareness and plays on fear, in a scaremongering manner to urge people to stop using fluoridated products."
The complainant also said the statement "keep fluoride out" denigrated those in the medical or dental profession who were pro-fluoridation.
In response, the advertiser referred to a previous ASA decision about the Ministry of Health's Fluoride Facts website.
In that case, the complainant had argued the ministry had presented its findings about fluoride as fact, when the complainant believed it was "disputed opinion".
However, the ASA found the website presented evidence-based research and no further action was required.
Fluoride Free New Zealand said the previous decision meant there was no case to answer "if we are applying the same rules to everyone".
But in its written decision, released today, the ASA found the Fluoride Free New Zealand advertisement was likely to be misleading.
It said the claims were presented as facts but were not substantiated, and the advertisement "unjustifiably played on fear".
The ASA ordered the ad to removed from the website.