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Australia in India tobacco ad row

Cricket Australia Tuesday pulled Hindi adverts displayed during the series with India after being alerted that they could be promoting tobacco, which would attract big fines for breaching local laws.

Cricket bosses said they were assured by the Indian government that the signage was advertising a brand of mouthwash, but decided to take them down due to their apparent similarity to a brand of chewing tobacco.


PIC/AFP

"We asked (the Indian government's) advice because we are not familiar with the Hindi language," a Cricket Australia spokesman told reporters.

"They came back and said it's an Indian mouthwash -- or at least they said it's not a tobacco product. We don't have one million percent certainty about all of the detail.

"It appears that there is a tobacco company with the same or similar brand name to the product that is being advertised. We have just become uneasy about it and said, let's withdraw this," he added.

"It's better to be safe than sorry."

The boundary-line adverts, aimed at the massive TV audience in India, were reportedly worth thousands of dollars and displayed during seven games.

But they will not be seen at future matches, starting with the one-dayer between India and Sri Lanka at Perth on Wednesday.

Cricket Australia acted after Health Minister Tanya Plibersek warned they faced fines of up to Aus$66,000 (US$70,000) for each breach of the 1992 tobacco advertising ban.

"The Gillard government has received a number of complaints alleging that advertisements for tobacco products have been displayed at cricket grounds," she told News Limited newspapers.

"The government is taking the allegations very seriously and has written to Cricket Australia seeking detailed information about the advertising."

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