Former 007 star Pierce Brosnan has been asked to explain why he features in a commercial for an Indian mouth freshener linked to chewing tobacco, Delhi authorities said Wednesday.

Health officials in the Indian capital said they had issued a show cause notice requiring Brosnan justify his starring in a James Bond-style ad dating back to 2016 for pan masala -- a mixture of betel nut, spices and sometimes tobacco.

The adverts for Indian TV channels, newspapers and billboards showed a bearded Brosnan grappling with villains and flirting with beautiful women before revealing a can of pan masala, a twist that invited ridicule at the time.

But local authorities remain less than impressed, insisting the ads are still at large and warning the 64-year-old Irish actor he could be violating Indian laws against tobacco advertising.

‘We saw Pierce Brosnan's posters advertising Pan Bahar (a pan masala brand) at tobacco shops in Delhi in the last fortnight,’ S.K Arora, a health department officer with the Delhi government, told AFP.

Arora said authorities had reached out to Brosnan through Pan Bahar, the pan masala company in question and ‘even directly on his Twitter account’ -- but had not heard back.

Brosnan could face a fine of 5000 rupees ($78) or up to two years in jail if he did not answer within 10 days, Arora added.

The makers of Pan Bahar insist their product does not contain nicotine, but many pan masala mixtures in India designed to freshen breath and aid digestion contain tobacco along with pastes, areca nut and spices.

Arora said chewing tobacco had been linked to cancer and millions of Indians chewed pan masala every day. The distinct mixture leaves lurid red stains on the mouth after being chewed or when it is spat out.