Newdelhi:10/8/23:The Department of Consumer Affairs, under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has released Additional Guidelines for celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers in the field of health and wellness. These guidelines are an important extension to the Guidelines for Prevention of Misleading Advertisements and Endorsements for Misleading Advertisements, 2022 released on 9th June 2022, and in lieu of the “Endorsement Know-hows!” guide booklet released on 20th January 2023.
The Additional Influencer Guidelines for Health and Wellness Celebrities, Influencers and Virtual Influencers has been developed after detailed discussions with all stakeholders including Ministry of Health, Ministry of Ayush, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI).
The additional guidelines aim to deal with misleading advertisements, unsubstantiated claims and ensure transparency in health and wellness endorsements. Under the guidelines, certified medical practitioners and health & fitness experts holding certifications from recognized institutions when sharing information, promoting products or services or making any health-related claims, must disclose that they are certified health/fitness experts and medical practitioners.
Celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers presenting themselves as health experts or medical practitioners, when sharing information, promoting products or services or making any health-related claims, must provide clear disclaimers, ensuring the audience understands that their endorsements should not be seen as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
This disclosure or disclaimer is necessary when talking or making claims on topics such as health advantages including those derived from food items & nutraceuticals, disease prevention, treatment or cure, medical conditions, recovery methodologies or immunity boosting, etc. This disclosure or disclaimer should be displayed during endorsements, promotions, or at any instance of making health-related assertions.
General wellness and health advice like ‘Drink Water and Stay Hydrated’, ‘Exercise Regularly and Be Physically Active’, ‘Reduce Sitting and Screen Time’, ‘Get Enough Good Sleep’, ‘Drink Turmeric Milk for faster recovery’, ‘Use sunscreen daily to protect from harmful UV rays’, ‘Oiling of hair for better growth’, etc not associated with specific products or services or not targeting specific health conditions or outcomes, are exempt from these regulations.
However, it is important for these Celebrities, influencers and virtual influencers presenting themselves as health experts or medical practitioners to clearly distinguish between their personal views and professional advice and to refrain from making specific health claims without substantiated facts. It is always recommended to encourage audiences to consult with healthcare professionals for seeking professional medical advice and complete information about the products or services.
DoCA will actively monitor and enforce these guidelines. Violations may lead to penalties under the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and other relevant provisions of the law.
The department is committed to safeguarding consumer interests and promoting a fair and transparent marketplace, especially in the increasingly influential digital space. This guideline will further strengthen the industry and protect consumer interests.