Alcohol Advertising, packaging and Labelling requirements in IndiaAuthor: Sudhir Kumar
The minimum legal age to purchase liquor in India ranges from 18 years in some state to 25 years in others. Under Indian Law, there are restrictions on advertising of alcohol. With effect from September 8, 2008, the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Amendment Bill has completely prohibited cigarette and alcohol advertisements in India through television. Some states allow advertising through bill boards, hoarding etc. subject to many restrictions. Further another mode of liquor promotion in India is through surrogate advertising (brand name promotion) through advertising bottled waters, juices, soda etc. and promoting sports and other events. There is lot of hue and cry over surrogate advertising as major thrust in such advertising is on liquor brand promotion. The government controlled channels are very cautious while broadcasting any surrogate advertisement. The available mode of advertisement is through product placement in the liquor vends, bars and sign boards.
The latest avenue for advertisement for alcohol brands is Social Media i.e. facebook, twitter etc. that allow access to target consumer directly. These platforms are exploited for brand promotion though contests and other innovative promotional activities. No specific regulations are made to check social media yet.
Alcohol (whether manufactured locally, bottled or Imported) is subject to the labelling provisions under the Standards and Weight and Measures (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 1997.
The labelling declaration must include:
a) Name and address of the Manufacturer, Packer or Importer
b) Generic and common name of the packaged commodity (i.e. Whisky/ Rum/ Vodka/ Scotch/ Wine/ Beer)
c) Net quantity in terms of standard units of weights and measures (in millilitres and litres) when packed.
d) Month and year of manufacture
e) Maximum Retail Price (MRP)
As the excise and other applicable laws in respect of alcoholic goods differ from one state to other, printing of "MRP" is not mandatory provided that the retailers display the retail sale price of the package prominently in their premises.
In addition, the standards of Weights and Measures (National Standards) Rule of 1998 prescribe that the alcoholic strength be declared on the label as percentage of volume and stated as "xx % Vol".
A warning as to injurious effects of alcohol must be printed on every unit (bottle/ packet). In some States safety holograms certifying that due duties/fees has been paid and the liquor is of prescribed standard, as approved by Excise Commissioners are required to be printed on each unit.
Author is practising Advocate, Registered Patent Agent and Trademark Attorney. Author is partner with IntellexIP Advocates and is member of Supreme Court Bar Association, Delhi High Court Bar Association, New Delhi Bar Association, Asian Patent Attorneys Association. Author can be reached at email@example.com or www.intellexip.com