2-Yr Jail, Rs 10 Lakh Fine For Misleading Advertisements For Covid-19, Immunity Booster

We all know first-hand how advertisements are plagued with claims that are not substantiated by evidence or proof. In a bid to protect the consumers from misleading as well as false claims, the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) has asked advertisers to back their claims with evidence. It has clarified that failing to back the claim with proof may attract penal action.

Penal Actions For False Claims or Misleading:-

In an advisory, CCPA added that in order to take advantage of the current pandemic, some advertisers are resorting to false claims to mislead or trick the consumers into buying the products while promotions. False and misleading claims in order to sell products shall be viewed as an unfair trade practice. This may lead to penal action which will range from a fine of 10 lakhs to imprisonment of up to 2 years.

There has been an increase in advertisement campaigns, especially the ones related to food as well as dietary supplements. Campaigns like, it is “100% swadeshi”, or it “kill 99.9 germs”, or it can “boost immunity” are on a sharp projection.

As per TAM Media Research, in a period between January and July 2020, The TV advertisement for hand sanitizers has grown by almost 100 %. Owing to the pandemic, out of overall advertising volume in 2020, for personal care and hygiene products formed 20% of TV advertising.

It is the over the top efficacy touted by several brands especially in food, personal care, hygiene, apparel and mattresses which has led the CCPA to issue the advisory to these advertisers.

Over 650 Ads Banned:-

Advertising Standards Council (ASCI), advertising self-regulatory body, has previously tried to ensure compliance, but only in vain. However, CCPA can ensure compliance. Out of all advertisements, over 650 ads in the digital space related to coronavirus were banned by ASCI because they were found to be misleading.

In July 2020, under the Section 10 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, CCPA was established in the light of protecting consumer rights. To promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers is the main objective of CCPA.

Following are the powers vested in CCPA :-

  • Conduct investigations into violation of consumer rights and institute complaints or prosecution,
  • Order recall of unsafe goods and services,
  • Order discontinuation of unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements,
  • Impose penalties on manufacturers, endorser and publishers of misleading advertisements.

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