Telugu actor Mahesh Babu has become the latest celebrity to be targeted for promoting a tobacco product or pan masala. Although the advertisement is from the past year, netizens unearthed the ad to take a dig at the actor after his rather infamous 'Bollywood can't afford me’ statement.
Celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan had quite recently faced backlash for promoting tobacco product brands and taking part in surrogate advertising.
This time, however, it was Mahesh Babu’s turn to face the heat as netizens took to Twitter to air their disappointment and take a dig at the actor.
I assume only TFI stars like #MaheshBabu are allowed to sell Pan Masala products, while the rest are abused for doing the same. Nice double standards😒 @Its_CineHub— J.P.S (@TheJ_P_S) May 12, 2022
#SarkaruVaariPaata #SVP #PrithvirajChauhan pic.twitter.com/ymuv2Vw1oi
"Bollywood Can’t Afford You, But Pan Masala Can. Easy money without a long stint, pan masala can afford actors with falling numbers and flops," said another Twitter user.
Some others also pointed out that while the governments keep earning taxes from the sale of such products why is it that the onus of morality is passed on to the actors?
Legality Vs Morality in #Gutka— Sreedhar Bevara (@SreedharBevara) April 21, 2022
While the Govt (custodian of people) allows such business & earn taxes knowing fully well it’s hazardous health complications; why the onus is shifted on morality of few actors?@akshaykumar @iamsrk @urstrulyMahesh @alluarjun @ajaydevgn @actorvijay https://t.co/h1LGOtQbZz
Celebrities who get involved in surrogate advertising for products deemed harmful to health have been under the radar of the public as well as the authorities for quite a while now. The new Consumer Protection Act also states that celebrities can be held accountable for the products they endorse and the claims made in the advertisements. It also advises them to do their part of due diligence about the product/brand they are endorsing.
The ASCI (Advertising Standards Council of India) too had launched a new wing that can help stakeholders with due diligence with the help of experts in the field like nutritionists, doctors, scientists, engineers etc. The debate whether celebrities should be involved in surrogate advertising has been an ongoing point of discussion since the past year.