Delhi government seriously believes that men listen to their wives more than anyone else. In a bid to encourage actors to give up endorsing pan masala products, Dr SK Arora, additional director (health), Delhi Government, claims to have written to five actors--Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Govinda, Arbaaz Khan and Sunny Leone, explaining the harmful effects of the tobacco use. Failing to get a response from the male actors, he decided to post letters to their wives -- Gauri Khan, Kajol, Sunita, Malaika - hoping that the spouses will persuade their husbands to give up the endorsement campaigns.
The actors are far from being amused! “I don’t understand what kind of persuasion this is. Writing to my wife, my brother or father is not the way to go about it. I am endorsing the product, not my wife. If the government has an issue with it, they should write to me. I never received any letter from the government in the first place. If they are saying they sent it, maybe it didn’t come to my notice as I have been travelling. Had I known this earlier I would have definitely adhered to their request. When I signed the contract with the brand, I was told that the product only has natural ingredients that are not harmful. I have certain commitments and I have been merely following them,” says actor Arbaaz Khan. He adds, “There is no harm in following what the government has asked us to do and when it is time for my contract to be renewed, I will keep this in mind.” The other actors in question did not respond to our request for comments.
Dr SK Arora, however, maintains that the letters were indeed sent out and actor Sunny Leone had even responded. He says, “Two months back we had posted letters to six celebrities who have been endorsing pan masala, requesting them to not do so in the larger interest of public health. There is enough scientific evidence to show that even though supari (areca nut) does not contain tobacco, it does cause cancer. We only got a response from Sunny Leone where she said that she did not know that supari causes cancer and that she will not take up fresh contracts for pan masala. Since the other five actors did not respond, we decided to post letters to their wives urging them to ask their husband to not endorse pan masala. It’s a humble appeal to them.”
Sunny’s team confirmed the same and said that they are looking into what can be done about the present contract.
Watch: Sunny Leone in anti-smoking ad 11 minutes
The contents of the mail urged the wives of these actors to persuade their husband to give up endorsement of pan masala products. Since the department could not access the email ids of the actors and their wives, they decided to post letters to their home address. As Dr Arora says, “Actors are role models and these companies rope in film stars to endorse their products because the young generation gets attracted. In fact most of the pan masala advertisements are surrogate ads for tobacco products which is not allowed.”
He adds, “We’ve also issued a strict compliance notice to actor Ajay Devgn, under Section 5 of Central Tobacco Act, which has legal value. We believe that the product that he endorses is a surrogate ad for the brand’s gutkha products.”