FTC Charges Home Shopping Network with Deceptive Advertising
of Vitamin Sprays, Stop-Smoking Spray
FTC News Release
March 3, 1995
The Federal Trade Commission has charged Home Shopping Network, Inc. with making a number of unsubstantiated claims about the benefits and efficacy of three vitamin sprays and a stop-smoking spray. The challenged advertising was shown on Home Shopping Club, commercial programming seen on Home Shopping Network's broadcast stations and cable channels and picked up by satellite dish receivers. According to its annual report, Home Shopping Club advertising reaches more than 60 million households in the United States.
The Commission is seeking an order that would require Home Shopping Network, Inc. and its subsidiaries, Home Shopping Club and HSN Lifeway Health Products, Inc., to have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support any claims they make about the effect of any food, dietary supplement or drug on the user's health or on the structure or function of the human body.
Home Shopping Network, based in St. Petersburg, Florida, markets a variety of consumer products via live, interactive television advertising programs and through mail order brochures. Home Shopping Club produced and disseminated advertising called "Spotlight on Ruta Lee," during which the spray vitamins and smoking cessation spray were promoted and sold.
In its complaint detailing the allegations, the FTC alleged that the respondents did not have adequate evidence to support a variety of representations made on "Spotlight." Specifically, the FTC alleged, they represented without substantiation that the vitamins in three spray products — Life Way Vitamin C and Zinc Spray, Life Way Antioxidant Spray, and Life Way Vitamin B-12 Spray — are more fully absorbed by the body than vitamins in pill form. In addition, the FTC alleged, the advertisements represented without adequate substantiation that, when used in recommended dosages:
- Life Way Vitamin C and Zinc Spray sprayed in the mouth heals mouth lesions, cold sores, and cracking of lip corners and prevents common colds;
- Life Way Vitamin B-12 Spray treats hangover symptoms and increases energy; and
- Life Way Anti-Oxidant Spray ensures proper function of the immune system, reduces risk of contracting infectious diseases, and prevents facial lines.
As for Smoke-Less Nutrient Spray, the FTC alleged that the advertising represented without substantiation that it enables users to stop smoking easily, regardless of how long or how much they have smoked, and that it satisfies the physiological urge to smoke a cigarette and eliminates the quivering, anxiety and weight gain that goes along with quitting smoking.
If the FTC charges are upheld following a hearing by an administrative law judge, the FTC said it is seeking an order to prohibit the three respondents from making any of the specifically-challenged claims for any food, drug, food or dietary supplement, or for any smoking-cessation product or program, unless they have competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the claim. The proposed order also would require the respondents to have scientific substantiation for any claim that use of any food, drug, or food or dietary supplement will have any effect on the user's health, or on the structure or function of the human body. In addition, the proposed order would require scientific substantiation for any performance, benefit, efficacy, or safety claim for any smoking cessation product, service or program.
The proposed order also would contain various reporting and recordkeeping provisions designed to assist the FTC in monitoring the respondents' compliance.
The Commission vote to issue the complaint was 4-0.
- In the Matter of Live-Lee Productions, and Ruta Lee. FTC Docket No. C-3620, FTC File No. 942-3058.
This page was posted on December 23, 2005.