The Delhi government has written to Bollywood actors Ajay Devgan, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Govinda, Arbaaz Khan and Sunny Leone, urging them not to endorse pan masala products as they contain areca nuts, a potential cancer causing agent.
The Delhi government has also asked the actors to join its anti-tobacco campaign to save the lives of lakhs of people who die due to oral cancer every year.
“You are often seen on TV and other media advertising pan masala products. Even if these pan masalas do not contain tobacco or nicotine, they surely contain areca nuts (supari) and now there are a lot of scientific evidences which prove that supari causes cancer.
“Moreover, some of these pan masala advertisements are surrogate advertisements of tobacco products which the manufacturing companies try to promote,” said Dr S K Arora, Additional Director (Health), Delhi government, in his letters.
Arora said tobacco use among Indian women is showing an increasing trend as compared to the rest of the world and that these advertisements, apart from e-cigarettes and hookah smoking, are playing a major role in it.
“You are the role model for youngsters, they watch you and your lifestyle and habits and try to adopt it. These advertisements attract the vulnerable population, especially, children and females very strategically and are directly and indirectly responsible for the increasing trends of tobacco use among youngsters and females in India.
“I humbly request you to not participate in pan masala or any other similar advertisements which are harming our society especially the younger generations. Rather, I request you to join us in anti-tobacco campaign to save lakhs of preventable deaths,” Arora said in the letter.
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 submucous fibrosis, which can easily turn cancerous.