Actor Pierce Brosnan said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” about Indian company Pan Bahar’s “unauthorised and deceptive use" of his image to endorse paan masala, which may have carcinogenic elements, People magazine reported on Thursday. His photograph purportedly endorsing the product had become the subject of much controversy.

Brosnan said he has the greatest love and affection for India and its people. “I was distressed to learn of Pan Bahar’s unauthorised and deceptive use of my image to endorse their range of paan masala products. I would never have entered into an agreement to promote a product in India that is dangerous to one’s health.”

Brosnan’s contract with the company allegedly stated that he was to endorse a “breath freshener/tooth whitener”. The actor said he had consented to promoting a single product that had “all-natural ingredients” and not any that contained tobacco, supari or other harmful contents.

He said that after the loss of his first wife and daughter to cancer, he was fully committed to supporting “women’s healthcare and research programmes that improve human health”. He demanded that the company remove his image from their advertisements and product branding. He said the company “grossly manipulated” media outlets to portray him as its brand ambassador, which is in violation of his contract.

The James Bond actor extended his apologies to “all whom I have offended.” The advertisement was banned from national and satellite television in the country after the Central Board of Film Certification issued an order citing laws that restrict content promoting paan masala, tobacco and alcohol from being showcased on electronic media. The advertisement was trolled on social media after it appeared on newspapers a week ago.