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ASCI to investigate pan masala ads featuring celebrities

MUMBAI: 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 the Delhi government, taking cognisance of the serious health consequences of pan masala products and the significant influence their ads featuring celebrities have on minors, made an appeal to celebrities not to appear in such ads.

ASCI secretary general Shweta Purandare said, “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 the ASCI and are being looked into. The ASCI will approach the advertisers concerned to take necessary corrective action following decision by our Consumer Complaints Council.”

According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) Rules and Regulation, 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 on the advertisements.

The ASCI has 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 that 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 that, 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 the ASCI code and are sensitised to this issue so that they can advertise in a responsible manner, the ASCI maintained.