"So how does this apology help?"
Health activists have criticised the apology offered by Akshay Kumar to his fans for appearing in an advertisement endorsing a popular pan masala brand.
The advertisement, which aired recently, showed Akshay alongside Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan.
Taking to Twitter, the Rowdy Rathode star penned: “I am sorry. I would like to apologise to you, all my fans and well-wishers.
“Your reaction over the past few days has deeply affected me.
“While I have not and will not endorse tobacco, I respect the outpouring of your feelings in light of my association with Vimal Elaichi. With all humility, I step back.”
He went on to add: “I have decided to contribute the entire endorsement fee towards a worthy cause.
“The brand might continue airing the ads till the legal duration of the contract that is binding upon me, but I promise to be extremely mindful in making my future choices.
“In return, I shall forever continue to ask for your love and wishes.”
Bhavna Mukhopadhyay, chief executive officer of the Voluntary Health Association of India said:
“The ad will continue. The damage that the ad will do in terms of influencing people, his fans and followers and everybody else, is done.
“The business of selling tobacco, gutkha and pan masala and cancer-causing substances will flourish.
“So how does this apology help? Will people see the apology or the ad?”
Mukhopadhyaya pointed out that Akshay had promised never to endorse tobacco products a few years back “despite getting a lot of offers”.
She asked: “He had said it was a matter of principle. What has led him to endorse them now?”
Monika Arora, director, health promotion division, Public Health Foundation of India added:
“Celebrities need to be sensitive towards their fans and remember they have a responsibility towards them.
“They should not be endorsing these products in the first place. Surely, this money can be used for tobacco control work, but the damage has been done.”
While Akshay Kumar’s apology has been making waves on social media, Ajay weighed in on the controversy.
In his interaction with Indian Express, Ajay was asked how actors often face criticism for the products they choose to endorse.
Commenting on the same, he said: “It is a personal choice.
“When you do something, you also see how harmful it would be.”
“Some things are harmful, some are not. I would say it without naming it because I don’t want to promote it; I was doing elaichi.
“What I feel is more than advertisements, if certain things are so wrong, then they should not be sold.”