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Actor Pierce Brosnan has found himself at the centre of an international incident after his bizarre appearance in an Indian campaign for chewing tobacco in 2016 belatedly put him in the crosshairs of officials from Delhi’s health department.

Civil servants have reached out to the former James Bond actor 'via social media platforms’ as well as Pan Bahar, the company which paid for a front-page ad in The Times of India and an associated TV campaign, to explain his presence in the controversial viral advertisement.

Failure to respond to these official overtures could see the star hit by wildly varying sanctions from a paltry £56 fine to a disproportionate two-year stint in an Indian jail if he fails to respond within a 10-day deadline.

Pan Bahar is a form of mouth freshener most firmly associated with an addictive form of chewing tobacco comprising crushed betel nut, lime and clove. Chewed by millions of Indians it is a common sight on city streets in the country where users can be identified by the bright red saliva that arises as a side effect of chewing.

Brosnan has already made clear that his contract was to advertise a different product in Pan Bahar’s range, specifically a ‘breath freshener/tooth whitener’ which contained no ‘tobacco’.

Indian law prohibits the advertisement of all tobacco products, forcing Brosnan to apologise for promoting the psychotropic drug.