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License To Kill? Indian officials threaten Bond star over ‘dangerous’ commercial

License To Kill? Indian officials threaten Bond star over ‘dangerous’ commercial
Delhi’s health department has given former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan 10 days to explain his appearance in commercials for a chewing mixture containing a cancer-causing ingredient – or face the prospect of prison.

The 64-year-old Hollywood star featured in the advertising of Indian brand Pan Bahar, associated with chewing mixtures that can contain tobacco, nuts, lime and spices. Commonly known as ‘pan masala’ or ‘gutka’, the mixtures are widely popular among Indians – but one of the core ingredients is a kind of nut considered both highly addictive and carcinogenic.

If Brosnan fails to respond to a notice sent Monday, he may face a 5,000 rupee (US$78) fine and two years behind bars, the health department officials told the Indian Express, citing the ban on advertising tobacco products.

“We have issued the notice to Pierce Brosnan through the company, and also reached out to him via social media platforms,” the official, SK Arora, said. Although the company claims that the specific product Brosnan was endorsing doesn’t include tobacco, it does contain supari, a betel nut, said to cause cancers.  

Following a public backlash to the commercial after it first appeared on TV and in newspapers back in 2016, Brosnan said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” over the company’s “deceptive use” of his image. “I would never have entered into an agreement to promote a product in India that is dangerous to one’s health,” the actor said in a statement, noting that his contract implied an ad of a “breath freshener/tooth whitener.”

“Having endured, in my own personal life, the loss of my first wife and daughter as well as numerous friends to cancer, I am fully committed to supporting women’s healthcare and research programs that improve human health and alleviate suffering,” Brosnan told People magazine.