New Delhi: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Delhi high court (HC) seeking a ban on surrogate advertising of tobacco and liquor products.
Surrogate advertising is used to promote products such as cigarettes and alcohol in the guise of promoting another product.
The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003 prohibits advertisement of tobacco-related products.
Petitioner Teena Sharma, a social activist, argued that the Advertising Code under the Cable Television Networks Rules 1994 requires that advertising that directly or indirectly promotes the consumption of cigarette, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants be barred.
To check surrogate advertising, the code requires that a registered chartered accountant certify that the expenditure on advertising the product is not disproportionate to its sales.
Also, all such advertisements that are found to be genuine brand extensions by the ministry of information and broadcasting must be previewed and certified by the Central Board of Film Certification as suitable for unrestricted public exhibition.
The petitioner also asked the court to direct the broadcasting ministry to frame guidelines to take action against companies that violate the Advertising Code and to set up a committee that will review such advertisements before they are published or broadcast.
The court has asked the petitioner to file a “better affidavit” substantiating her claims.
“Any complaints received against campaigns involving brand extensions are reported to the regulatory authorities to take necessary action,” said Shweta Purandare, secretary-general of the Advertising Standards Council of India., a self regulatory body.