Continuing with the mission to address misleading, vulgar, hazardous and unfair advertisements, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is set to investigate advertisements by Pan Masala brands featuring celebrities as these would be in violation of the ASCI’s Code of Self-Regulation in Advertising content.
Recently, the Health Department of Delhi Government, taking cognizance of the serious health consequences of Pan Masalas and the significant influence their ads featuring celebrities have on minors made an appeal to celebrities not to appear in such products’ ads.
According to Ms. Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI, “At this juncture, we would like to educate the consumers and the advertisers that while products like Pan Masala and Supari are not banned for sale or from advertising by law, the ASCI code does not permit the use of celebrities in advertisements of products which by law require health warning on its pack or cannot be purchased or used by minors. Complaints against such advertisements have been received by ASCI and are being looked into. ASCI will approach the concerned advertisers to take necessary corrective action post decision by our Consumer Complaints Council.”
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Rules and Regulation, the statutory warnings like ‘Chewing of Pan Masala is injurious to health’ and ‘Chewing of Supari is injurious to health’ are mandatory to be printed on the pack as well as for the advertisements. It has been observed that large number of Pan Masala brands are in potential contravention of the advertising codes under ASCI’s Chapter III (To safeguard against the indiscriminate use of Advertising in situations or of the Promotion of Products which are regarded as Hazardous or Harmful to society or to individuals, particularly minors, to a degree or of a type which is Unacceptable to Society at Large). More specifically, Clause 2 (e) under Chapter III states:
Advertisements should not feature personalities from the field of sports, music and cinema for products which, by law, either require a health warning in their advertising or cannot be purchased by minors.
It is important that the advertisers as well as celebrities are aware of this clause of ASCI code and sensitized to this issue so that they can advertise in a responsible manner.