Delhi Government Health Department has issued a strict compliance notice to Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn for appearing in a surrogate advertisement of tobacco products. As per section 5 of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act 2003, “In view of this it is clear the said pan masala is being advertised as brand promotion of tobacco products which is misleading the consumer, especially the minors, and is a great violation of public health practice as per COTPA 2003.

The Health Department had in January written to Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Govinda, Arbaaz Khan and Sunny Leone along with Ajay Devgn, urging them not to endorse pan masala products as they contained areca nuts, a potential cancer causing agent. The government has also asked actors to join its anti-tobacco campaign to help save lives of lakhs of people who die due to oral cancer every year. According to experts, areca nuts, the main ingredient in pan masala, is in the league of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol when it comes to addictive properties and also lead to a high number of cases of sub-mucous fibrosis, which can easily turn cancerous.

Government of Delhi has already filed an FIR against three major tobacco companies on the issue of surrogate advertisements and is waiting for the action taken report by Delhi Police.

S.K Arora, Additional Director (Health Department) send a letter saying-

“All kinds of direct and indirect advertisement of tobacco products has been banned as per section 5 of Cigarette and Other Tobacco Product Act 2003. In view of this it is clear the said paan masala is being advertised as a brand promotion of gutka/tobacco products which is misleading the consumer, especially the minors, and is a great violation of public health practice as per COTPA 2003. Though the onus of this violation of section 5 of COTPA lies upon the said tobacco company but by appearing in the advertisement you also become party to this violation under section 5 of the Act.”

The request was made in letters to the wives of the actors Ajay Devgan, Shahrukh Khan, Arbaaz Khan and Govinda as they did not respond to the earlier requests by the health department.