5-year jail term, ₹50 lakh fine for Ads promoting fair skin: Draft

It is high-time that advertisements promoting such beauty standards be penalised or brought down altogether.

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Last Updated on February 8, 2020 by The Health Master

Advertisements (Ads) play a crucial role in shaping a person’s belief system.

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 – 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.

Also read: HM releases draft DMROA Amendment Bill, 2020

Taking a step against this issue, the 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, reports The Telegraph.

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 ministry has released a draft of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill 2020 for public comments. It is intended to prevent “gullible or vulnerable members of the public” from being “exploited” by companies through ads.

The draft has expanded the definition of an advertisement to cover those shown in electronic media, social media, and websites.

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Previously, the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (1954) had prohibited advertising the “cure” of 54 “disorders”, reports Money Control. Now the number has increased to 78 which includes ads about AIDS, encephalitis, the fairness of skin, improvement in height of children or adults, and premature greying of hair, and 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.

Advertisements have a great influence on a person’s life. Misleading advertisements can be dangerous and hence, should be made illegal. Kudos to the Health Ministry for taking this necessary step.