The Delhi government has asked international actor Pierce Brosnan to explain why he appears in a commercial for an Indian brand’s paan masala advertisement, and has given him 10 days to respond or face jail time of two years or a fine of Rs 5,000, PTI reported.
The state government’s health department on Monday issued the actor a showcause notice under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, for appearing in a “surrogate advertisement” for the paan masala brand. The act bans all direct and indirect advertisements of tobacco products.
“We have issued the notice to Pierce Brosnan through the company, and also reached out to him through social media platforms,” Additional Director (Health) SK Arora told The Indian Express. Arora said the notice was issued after the department received information about the company promoting the “surrogate product” on different media platforms.
The notice said paan masala contains areca nut, or supari, which is a cancer-causing agent, and Brosnan, as an “actor who is a role model for lakhs of people especially youngsters, should not indulge in promotion of such hazardous products”, PTI reported.
It is unclear how the government plans to enforce the penalty on Brosnan if he fails to respond.
The government also asked the company, Pan Bahar, why punitive action should not be taken against its directors and office-bearers, PTI reported.
The row over the advertisement dates back to 2016, when Brosnan said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” about Pan Bahar’s “unauthorised and deceptive use” of his image to endorse paan masala.
The actor had said his contract stated he was to advertise a “breath freshener/ tooth whitener”, and that he would “never have entered into an agreement to promote a product in India that is dangerous to one’s health”.