The Division of Advertising Practices protects consumers from unfair or deceptive advertising and marketing practices that raise health and safety concerns, as well as those that cause economic injury. It brings law enforcement actions in federal district court to stop fraudulent advertising practices, coordinates FTC actions with federal and international law enforcement agencies sharing authority over health and safety products and services, and monitors advertising and marketing of alcohol, tobacco, violent entertainment media, and food to children. The Division also brings administrative lawsuits to stop unfair and deceptive advertising.
The Division’s enforcement priorities include:
- combating deceptive advertising of fraudulent cure-all claims for dietary supplements and weight loss products
- monitoring and stopping deceptive Internet marketing practices that develop in response to public health issues
- monitoring and developing effective enforcement strategies for new advertising techniques and media, such as word-of-mouth marketing;
- monitoring and reporting on the advertising of food to children, including the impact of practices by food companies and the media on childhood obesity;
- monitoring and reporting on industry practices regarding the marketing of violent movies, music, and electronic games to children;
- monitoring and reporting on alcohol and tobacco marketing practices.
Rules and Guides
The Division develops, reviews, and enforces a variety of consumer protection laws, regulations, and Guides, including:
- The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act and the Contact Lens Rule, which increases consumers’ ability to shop around when buying contact lenses;
- The Federal Cigarette and Smokeless Tobacco Acts, which require the FTC to review and approve tobacco company plans for rotating and displaying the statutory health warnings on tobacco labels and in ads; and
- Dietary Supplement Guides, which provide businesses with guidance for claims they make for dietary supplements.
Consumer Protection Initiatives
The Division coordinates and addresses current consumer protection issues with state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies, as well as with industry self-regulation groups. These initiatives include:
- working with the Food and Drug Administration to combat fraudulent products on the Internet through joint warning letters;
- participating on the Interagency Coordinating Committee to Prevent Underage Drinking;
- convening workshops with other government agencies, businesses, consumer groups, and community-based organizations;
- working with sister agencies in other countries to combat the cross-border marketing of fraudulent and potentially harmful health products; and
- reviewing referrals for non-participation or non-compliance from self-regulatory groups.