Advertising campaigns making claims of their products protecting consumers from COVID-19 without any scientific proof will be held responsible for misleading consumers.
The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) said in an advisory, "It appears that false claims are made to mislead the consumers for promotion of their products by taking advantage of the ongoing pandemic situation in the country,"
The CCPA further said that resorting to misleading or false advertising is an unfair trade practice and liable for punishment ranging from imprisonment for up to two years to fine up to Rs 10 lakh.
There has been a surge in advertisements for foods and dietary supplements amidst the pandemic with catchy claims such as "boosts immunity", "protects from COVID-19", "virus killing" etc.
Advertising for hand sanitisers on TV grew 100% in July 2020 compared with January in the same year, according to a report on TV advertising by TAM Media Research. Advertisements for personal care and hygiene products constituted 20% of the overall advertising volume on TV in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, the report said.
Experts said the directive should deter some misleading advertisements.