Illinois Company That Markets Hypnosis Seminars for
Smoking Cessation and Weight Loss Agrees to Settle FTC Charges
FTC News Release
July 22, 1994
The American Institute of Smoking Cessation, Inc. (AISC) has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that the company and its two officers, Kenneth C. Grossman and Jane A. Grossman, made unsubstantiated claims in their advertisements about the success of participants in their seminars in stopping smoking permanently and in losing weight. The proposed settlement would, among other things, prohibit the respondents from making any representation about the relative or absolute performance or efficacy of any smoking cessation or weight-loss program, unless they possess and rely upon competent and reliable scientific evidence to substantiate the representation. AISC, based in Hinsdale, Illinois, advertises, sells and conducts three-hour, single-group hypnosis seminars for smoking cessation and weight-loss — the Grossman Method — at various sites throughout the United States. According to the complaint detailing the FTC's charges, the respondents made numerous representations in ads and promotions for the seminars, including:
- "The Grossman Method of Hypnosis has helped over 300,000 smokers during the past 15 years"; and
- "STOP SMOKING IN JUST THREE HOURS FLAT! WITHOUT ANXIETY, IRRITABILITY OR WEIGHT GAIN…Of those motivated smokers who join us, over 98% will throw away their cigarettes…by seminar's end. I personally guarantee it…ELIMINATES YOUR DESIRE FOR CIGARETTES.…"
The testimonials used by respondents in their ads included statements such as:
- "This seminar was the beginning of a whole new life for me. I attended your program over a year ago and to this day I have not even touched a cigarette.…";
- "I smoked 2 packs a day for 45 years and quit 9 years ago with this seminar. This was the best investment in time and money I've ever made. I've saved thousands of dollars! I feel healthy and alive! I've sent dozens of people to this seminar and they are all non-smokers too."; and
- "I lost 28 lbs. in just 6 weeks. I lost the weight so fast and easy that my family & friends were astonished."
Through the use of such statements, the FTC alleged that the respondents have represented that seminar participants typically are cured of smoking addiction and permanently abstain from smoking cigarettes and that they do so without experiencing anxiety, or irritability, or weight gain; that the respondents' single-session group hypnosis seminar is more effective than other smoking-cessation methods; and that seminar participants lose weight quickly. The FTC alleges that these representations are deceptive because the respondents do not possess adequate substantiation for them.
To settle these charges, a proposed consent agreement announced today for public comment would prohibit the respondents from representing that participants in their seminars are cured of smoking addiction without experiencing irritability, anxiety, weight gain, or other side effects, without possesing and relying upon competent scientific evidence to substantiate the representations. Additionally, the respondents would be prohibited from representing the performance or efficacy of any smoking cessation or weight-loss program in the future, unless they possess a reasonable basis, consisting of competent and reliable scientific evidence, to substantiate the claims.
Further, the agreement would prohibit the respondents from representing, through any endorsement or testimonial, that participants who attend respondents' smoking cessation or weight-loss seminars have achieved unless the representation reflects the typical or ordinary experience of participants of such programs, or unless the respondents clearly disclose either the generally-expected result for participants or that consumers should not expect to experience similar results.
Further, the proposed agreement would prohibit the respondents from misrepresenting the contents, results or validity of any study, test, survey or report.
The Commission vote to accept the proposed consent agreement for public comment was 5-0.
- In the Matter of American Institute of Smoking Cessation, Kenneth C. Grossman, and Jane A. Grossman. 119 FTC 289, FTC Docket No. C-3560, FTC File No. 932-3253, FR Doc. 94-19134.
This page was posted on December 23, 2005.