SINGAPORE – Complaints and queries over advertisements for health products have been increasing over the last few years, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) has found.
The agency also said in a statement on Friday (April 21) that feedback about advertisements for mosquito traps and repellents have appeared for the first time in the wake of the dengue fever outbreak last year.
There were 28 cases of feedback on health products and services last year, up from 19 in 2015 and 17 in 2014, while four cases related to mosquito products were filed last year.
ASAS said that as consumers spend more on alternative healthcare products and consult Internet sources for health and nutrition advice, businesses have been targeting these consumers aggressively.
Last year, the agency required 22 advertisements to be amended as their claims were not supported by appropriate evidence.
For example, a health supplement maker stated in its advertisement that the ingredients could help improve sleep quality, but the claim was based on a study conducted on animals.
Another manufacturer claimed that its product helped to fight toxins, but it was unable to show that the product contained the same dosage of the active ingredient as that used in the study they cited.
Meanwhile, the mosquito-related feedback received by ASAS were on advertisements for light and ultrasonic mosquito traps and repellents.
On consulting the National Environment Agency (NEA), it found that there was no evidence of these products working against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main vector of dengue and Zika in Singapore.
ASAS said that false claims about these devices could create complacency among users.
The four top industries after health for advertising feedback last year were for beauty, food and beverage, electrical and electronics, and telecommunications, in that order.
ASAS received 284 cases of feedback across all industries last year.
The agency is working with relevant authorities to ensure that advertising for health products and services in Singapore is ethical, and that the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice complements existing legislation on the advertising of health products.
It urged consumers to inform it of any advertisements that contain statements that appear “too good to be true”.
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