The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is set to investigate advertisements by Pan Masala brands featuring celebrities, as they violate 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, appealed Bollywood celebrities not to endorse such brands.
Speaking about the issue, Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI said, “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 celebrities to endorse such products. 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."
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.
As per the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Rules and Regulations, the statutory warnings like ‘Chewing of Pan Masala is injurious to health’ and ‘Chewing of Supari is injurious to health’ are mandatory and should be printed on the pack, as well as highlighted in the advertisements.