Qualify nuclear power claims, says NAD

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In a dispute involving ads by the Nuclear Energy Institute, Washington, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus said environmental claims for nuclear energy should ``meet the traditional standards of truthfulness and accuracy that are required in all forms of commercial advertising.''

In agreeing to review the ads, NAD said the deregulation now under way in the electric power marketplace moved the NEI ads out of the category of ``political or issue'' advertising and made them more conventional ``commercial speech.'' It noted that consumers in as much as 46% of the nation may be able to choose their electricity provider in the next year, and that claims about nuclear energy potentially become relevant to the selection of electricity suppliers. NAD said the environmental claims in the NEI ads need to be ``carefully qualified'' to avoid potential consumer confusion and that broad, unqualified claims, such as ``environmentally clean'' or produces electricity ``without polluting the environment,'' should be discontinued.

NEI contended the print ads in question represented ``issue advertising'' directed to policymakers and opinion leaders, and therefore are outside the purview of NAD, which normally reviews claims for product and service advertising. NEI nevertheless said it would modify future ads to meet NAD concerns about unqualified environmental benefit claims.

The Natural Resources Defense Council had challenged the ads.

Smith & Harroff, Alexandria, Va., was the Nuclear Energy Institute agency.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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