Pierce Brosnan says India mouth freshener brand 'cheated' him

The ad first appeared in October 2016. Courtesy: BBC

Actor Pierce Brosnan has told Indian authorities that he was “cheated” by a mouth fresher company that had employed him to promote its brand. 

He had been asked to explain why he was in an advert for Pan Bahar which is associated with an addictive form of chewing tobacco.

Brosnan had said the company did not disclose the hazardous nature of the product, a senior official told media.

Indian law prohibits all advertisements of tobacco products.

Delhi health official SK Arora said that in his written response to the government, Brosnan had also assured them that his association with the brand was over and agreed to help further efforts against similar campaigns in the future.

The former Bond actor had condemned the “unauthorised” use of his image in the ad for Pan Bahar in in 2016, soon after it first appeared. His appearance in the advertisement had outraged many Indians who questioned why he was endorsing a product associated with cancer. 

Despite his objections however, the television ad continues to be aired on Indian channels and even in cinemas.

Pan Bahar is commonly associated with pan masala and gutka, a potent mixture of tobacco, crushed betel nut, lime, and clove among other ingredients. It is chewed (and subsequently spat out in bright red streams) by millions of people, who get addicted to its mildly psychotropic effects.

Ashok & Co, the company that produces Pan Bahar, told the BBC in 2016 that there was no tobacco or nicotine in the product.

Brosnan told People magazine that the contract was to advertise a single product – a “breath freshener/tooth whitener” that contained no ” tobacco” or any “harmful ingredient.”

Both pan masala and gutka have been linked to cancer, with many Indian states banning their sale and running campaigns to discourage people from buying them.