A SOMERSET shop has been banned from running adverts that discourage people from wearing face coverings.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld complaints against Hemp in Avalon, in Glastonbury, after two complaints were made saying adverts from the shop were “misleading, irresponsible and harmful”.

An ad in The Oracle, a local publication, was headed “Hemp in Avalon welcomes all customers, with or without a mask. The choice is yours”, the advertising watchdog said.

Beneath that was a photo of a shop mannequin wearing a face mask with “hoax” written on it.

Further text said wearing a mask is “dangerous to your health” and causes people to breathe back in their “own toxic waste”.


The ASA said a post on the advertiser’s Instagram account featured the same image and text, with additional text down the side saying: “Who’s the dummy?”

Text accompanying the post stated: “Unmask yourselves and breath! … 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.”

According to the ASA, Geraint Christopher, trading as Hemp in Avalon, said the Instagram post had been removed and the shop had no plans to run similar ads in future.

The Oracle said it had run the ad because it understood there was an ongoing debate in the country about the efficacy of face masks, though it did not have an opinion.

It said it would refuse such ads in future.

The ASA considered that the ads discouraged members of the public from wearing face coverings in the Hemp in Avalon shop, and more widely.

The watchdog said it noted that, from July 24 2020, people in England were required by law to wear face coverings in a number of public settings, including shops.

“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.

“The ads must not appear again in the forms complained about.

“We told Geraint Christopher t/a Hemp in Avalon 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.”