Cancer Act 1939

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The Cancer Act 1939 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed in 1939 to make further provision for the treatment of cancer, to authorise the Minister of Health to lend money to the National Radium Trust, to prohibit certain advertisements relating to cancer, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid. Its most notable provision is a clause prohibiting taking any part in publication, except under specified conditions, of advertisements that "offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof". Prosecutions do take place, but are rare.[1]

The expression “advertisement” includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper or other document, and any announcement made orally or by any means of producing or transmitting sounds.

The Act provides for exceptions in making material available to registered medical and nursing personnel and pharmacists, and for material produced by hospitals and local authorities. Various of its provisions have now been updated.

The Act does not apply in Northern Ireland.

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