Ex-007 Brosnan faces jail for mouth freshener ad

New Delhi: Former 007 star Pierce Brosnan has been asked to explain why he features in a commercial for a mouth freshener linked to chewing tobacco, Delhi authorities said on Wednesday.
Health officials in the Indian capital said they had issued a show cause notice requiring Brosnan justify his starring in a James Bond-style ad dating back to 2016 for pan masala — a mixture of betel nut, spices and sometimes tobacco.
The adverts for Indian TV channels, newspapers and billboards showed a bearded Brosnan grappling with villains and flirting with beautiful women before revealing a can of pan masala, a twist that invited ridicule at the time.
But local authorities remain less than impressed, insisting the ads are still at large and warning the 64-year-old Irish actor he could be violating Indian laws against tobacco advertising.
“We saw Pierce Brosnan’s posters advertising Pan Bahar (a pan masala brand) at tobacco shops in Delhi in the last fortnight,” SK Arora, a health department officer with the Delhi government, said. Arora said they took action after spotting the ads — which were “discontinued for sometime” — surfacing again on social media in recent weeks.
“Brosnan, as a role model for people, particularly youth, should not promote such hazardous products. We will initiate legal action if the reply doesn’t come,” Arora said.
Arora said authorities had reached out to Brosnan through Pan Bahar, the pan masala company in question and “even directly on his Twitter account” — but had not heard back.
Brosnan could face a fine of Rs 5,000 ($78) or up to two years in jail if he did not answer within 10 days, Arora said.
The makers of Pan Bahar insist their product does not contain nicotine, but many pan masala mixtures in India designed to freshen breath and aid digestion contain tobacco along with pastes, areca nut and spices.
Arora said chewing tobacco had been linked to cancer and millions of Indians chewed pan masala every day.
The distinct mixture leaves lurid red stains on the mouth after being chewed or when it is spat out.
The ad featuring Brosnan first appeared in 2016.
At the time, he had condemned the “unauthorised use” of his image.
He said the contract had stated he was to advertise a “breathfreshener/tooth whitener,” and that he would never promote a product in India that was dangerous to health. — Agencies