You'd think the new-age hippies behind a shop called "Hemp in Avalon" would be a bit more groovy about the state we find ourselves in – but no, ads run by the biz came straight outta unhinged conspiracyville.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints that a notice placed in The Oracle – a cosmic woo publication for the Glastonbury area of Somerset, England – was "misleading, irresponsible and harmful."
The ad was headed "Hemp in Avalon welcomes all customers, with or without a mask. The choice is yours." Below was a picture of a mannequin wearing a face mask with "HOAX" written on it. The copy continued:
***WARNING*** Wearing a mask is dangerous to your health. Wearing a mask for even a short period of time can lead to you breathing in levels of Carbon Dioxide considered by the Health and Safety Executive to be dangerous to health. It also causes you to breath [sic] back in your own toxic waste. This may result in infection and a weakening [sic] of your immune system, making one more prone to viral infection and disease. It also discriminates against people who need to lip read … 10% DISCOUNT FOR FACE TO FACE, UNMASKED TRANSACTIONS ON CO2 EXTRACTED HEMP FLOWER EXTRACTS
A post on the Hemp in Avalon Instagram had the same image and content, as well as "Who's the dummy?" down the side. Text accompanying the post read:
Unmask yourselves and breath [sic]! ... I was actually considering a 10% surcharge for cashless faceless transactions … Unmask yourself and realise That real eyes realise Real lies The plandamic The scamdamic The total hoax of Covid 19
Both notices were seen during September and October.
Beside the fact that "real eyes realise real lies" is up there with "live, laugh, love" in the Book of Cringeworthy Phrases for Normies, the ASA upheld the complaints.
The watchdog said: "We noted that, from 24 July 2020, people in England were required by law to wear face coverings in a number of public settings, including shops (unless they were exempt for reasons of age, health or disability). We understood that requirement was based on scientific evidence that suggested that a face covering could help reduce transmission of infected airborne droplets from the person wearing it to those around them, thus helping to reduce the transmission of the virus in the community. We considered that the ads incited people to break the law and concluded that the ads were misleading, irresponsible and harmful."
What?! You mean to say there's no evidence that shoving a crystal up my bottom to realign my chakras will stop me getting ill?
The notices were found to breach articles 1.3 (Social responsibility), 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 4.2 (Harm and offence) of the Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
The ads must not appear again. Geraint Christopher, who runs Hemp in Avalon, was told not to "incite people to break the law by discouraging people from wearing face coverings in shops, including by making misleading claims that masks were harmful".
He said the Instagram post had been deleted and that he had no plans to run it again. The Oracle responded that they chose to run the ads because of an "ongoing debate in the country about the efficacy of face masks", but claimed not to believe that themselves, and agreed not to publish any more ads like this.
It's strange that people will object to overwhelming evidence from the world's top health organisations, but have no qualms about lapping up pseudoscience or the spittle-flecked rantings of a bloke sitting in a truck on YouTube. ®