INDIA: Advertisements play a crucial role in shaping a person’s belief and lifestyle habits. As advertising on social on media is flooded with fake advertising campaigns, the Indian Health Ministry is clamping down.
Toxic ideas about beauty and lifestyle are often propagated from certain ads, like those of fairness creams. Fairness creams and ads surrounding them have often faced severe backlash from people because it sends out a wrong message that ‘to be fair is to be beautiful.’
Women with dusky complexions have suffered a tremendous amount of stigma and shame about how they look and we have society’s unrealistic standards of beauty to blame for that. It is high-time that advertisements promoting such beauty standards be penalised or brought down altogether.
Taking a step against this issue, the Union Health Ministry has proposed 5 years of imprisonment and Rs 50 lakh fine for “misleading advertisements” of products promoting not just fair skin but also anti-hair-loss, sexual performance, and others.
The draft has expanded the definition of an advertisement under the law to cover electronic media, the Internet and websites.
If convicted for the first time, a jail term of 2 years and a fine of Rs 10 lakhs will be imposed. If convicted for the second time, a jail term of 5 years and a fine of Rs 50 lakhs will be imposed. The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954, is intended to prevent gullible or vulnerable members of the public from being exploited through advertisements for drugs or cosmetic products for certain health or cosmetic disorders.
The draft has expanded the list of disorders from 54 to 78 and will prohibit advertisements for treatment of AIDS, encephalitis, fairness of skin, improvement in height of children or adults, and premature greying of hair, among others.
The changes to the act were caused by innumerable complaints from the Advertising Standards Council of India based on consumer complaints. There are dozens of advertisements that mislead consumers by making claims of curing asthma, cancer, diabetes, low height, obesity, and sexual performance.
Public Intervention 45 Day period
The health ministry released the draft bill on Monday and has sought suggestions, comments or objections from the public for 45 days.
The proposal for the amendments come amid long-standing concerns about misleading advertisements as pointed out month after month by the Advertising Standards Council of India, an industry watchdog, on the basis of consumer complaints.
The ASCI in its periodical reports has listed dozens of misleading advertisements that violate the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act. These advertisements have made claims related to asthma, cancer, diabetes, increased height, obesity and sexual performance among other health and cosmetic conditions.
Advertisements have a great influence on a person’s life. Misleading advertisements can be dangerous and hence, should be made illegal.