IHI Settles FTC Charges over Stop-Smoking, Weight-Loss Claims

FTC News Release
November 23, 1994

IHI Clinics and its principals, Gordon and Larry Brick, marketers of single-session group-hypnosis seminars to stop smoking and lose weight, have agreed to settle FTC charges that certain advertising claims about the effectiveness of the program were false and unsubstantiated. The FTC also alleged that the defendants used consumer testimonials in a misleading way. The proposed settlement would prohibit these or other false and unsubstantiated claims in future advertising. This is the latest in a series of FTC cases against smoking-cessation and weight-loss hypnosis seminars that make unsubstantiated success-rate claims in their advertising.

IHI, based in Tucker, Georgia, offers its sessions at sites across the country at a cost of around $40.

According to the FTC complaint detailing the charges, IHI advertising represented that 95 percent or more of those who attend IHI smoking-cessation seminars quit smoking permanently and that the US Government has rated the single-session, group-hypnosis seminar used by IHI as the best way to stop smoking. Both statements are false and misleading, according to the complaint.

IHI ads also allegedly represented that:

IHI did not have evidence to substantiate these representations, according to the complaint.

Claims that IHI seminar participants achieve and maintain quick weight loss, and that IHI's single-session group hypnosis is more effective than other weight-loss methods also are unsubstantiated, the complaint alleges.

The proposed consent agreement to settle the allegations, announced today for public comment, would prohibit IHI and the two officers from making the alleged false claims and from misrepresenting the performance or efficacy of any IHI smoking cessation or weight-loss programs. It also would prohibit representations that respondents' single-session group hypnosis seminars are more effective than other type of weight-loss or smoking- cessation programs, or that attendees don't experience side effects like craving or stress, unless they rely on competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate such representations. In addition, the agreement would prohibit IHI from misrepresenting any tests, studies, surveys or reports. Finally, the settlement would require the respondents, when using testimonials that purport to represent the typical experience of consumers, to be able to substantiate that it is, in fact, typical, or to disclose that consumers should not expect similar results.

The Commission vote to announce the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 3-0, with Commissioner Christine A. Varney not participating.

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