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MILES ONE-A-DAY HEALTH PROTECTION CLAIMS ARE "MISLEADING"

Executive Summary

MILES ONE-A-DAY HEALTH PROTECTION CLAIMS ARE "MISLEADING," the New York State Attorney General's Office asserted in an Aug. 29 statement announcing a settlement agreement with Miles on ad claims for the multiple vitamins. Under the "assurance of discontinuance" order, Miles agreed to stop advertising that One- A-Day multiple vitamins are "necessary or effective in preventing or reversing the health effects of air pollution, ordinary stress or routine exercise," the Attorney General's Office said. The settlement agreement concerns claims made in a One-A-Day TV and radio ad campaign that ran from August 1989 until April. The ads claimed: "Defending your lungs against air pollution requires vitamins A, C and E. Daily stress can chip away at your B vitamins. And rigorous physical training can lower your body's supply of essential minerals. That's why One-A-Day vitamins are uniquely formulated to put back what your world takes away." The order against Miles alleges that the ads "misrepresented directly and by implication" that: "the average consumer needs a vitamin supplement to prevent damage to the lungs and to prevent mineral and vitamin loss" and "damage to the lungs caused by the effects of air pollution can be prevented or...reversed by the addition of One-A-Day vitamins"; and that "a balanced diet does not have sufficient amounts of vitamins A, E and C to play a protective role against damage to the lungs caused by air pollution." The order further alleges that Miles' ad claims suggested to the average consumer that: "a balanced diet alone will not prevent excess mineral loss when exercising"; "routine physical exercise results in the elimination of essential minerals from the body"; and "routine types of daily stress can deplete B vitamins." The agreement with Miles requires the firm for a period of three years beginning July 31 to "cease and desist from making any representation directly or by implication" that "the average consumer loses B vitamins or minerals due to ordinary daily stress or physical exercise, and that One-A-Day vitamins can prevent or mitigate damage to the lungs resulting from air pollution," a New York State Attorney General's Office press release states. In addition to New York, the attorneys general of Texas and California were involved in an investigation of the One-A-Day claims. Robert Abrams, Jim Mattox and John Van DeKamp, respectively, have been very active of late in investigating health claims for food and nutritional products, particularly since the flood of cholesterol-lowering claims hit the market for oat bran products and psyllium-containing cereals. Miles, which signed the agreement without admitting any wrongdoing, said it believes the ads "were not misleading and the claims were well substantiated." The ads were taken off the air, the company said, when a decision was made to pursue a new marketing direction. In addition to signing the consent order, Miles agreed to pay $10,000 to each of the three states to cover the costs of the investigation. The company is also working to resolve the matter of appropriate One-A-Day claims with the Federal Trade Commission.
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