Indian government to regulate misleading advertisements

New Delhi: People promising you the moon will soon go under the scanner with the government working out a mechanism to regulate misleading advertisements.

“The existing provisions of the Consumer Protection Act need to be sharpened and the definition of ‘misleading’ advertisements and ‘punishment thereof’ expanded,” said a senior official of the Consumer Affairs ministry Friday.

“The aim is to protect the consumer against advertisements promising false health and nutrition benefits to consumers,” the official said. “The new mechanism will cover advertisements across all mediums like electronic, print and hoardings.”

Concerned over the issue, the Prime Minister’s Office recently directed the consumer affairs department to “prepare a regulatory mechanism to keep a check on the “misleading” advertisements within a month.

The move followed a meeting of Principal Secretary to the prime minister T.K.A. Nair with consumer affairs department officials Sep 13, sources said.

Ministry sources said they have been taking note of misleading advertisements related to nutrition in food supplements, cosmetics and herbal products which promise immediate health benefits.

The move will also include the services sector — for instance, the get-rich-quick schemes.

Sources said they will also consult the union health ministry to dovetail provisions of the Food Safety Act and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act in the new regulatory mechanism.

With TV becoming a strong medium, the chances of gullible consumers being taken for a ride have increased. “Hence, the need for caution,” said an official.

The Indian nutraceutical, products that combine the benefits of nutrition with pharmaceuticals, market is worth $1 billion. Globally, the market for nutraceuticals is pegged at around $124 billion.

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