Lawyers for England captain John Terry could take legal action after an apparent image of the footballer was used in a tobacco warning on cigarette packets in India, his spokesman said Tuesday.
The blurry photograph featuring the head and shoulders of a man resembling Terry appears on packets of Gold Flake cigarettes and other brands with a superimposed set of blackened lungs and the warning that "Smoking Kills".
Image warning on the cigarette packet.PIC/AFP
"It would seem that the picture is of him and he has not posed for anything like this," Keith Cousins, of the British-based Elite Management agency, which represents Terry, told AFP by telephone.
"We don't know where the image is taken from, but he has not given his consent for this," he said. "We have consulted solicitors in London and India to investigate the matter and take appropriate action."
Chelsea skipper John Terry in a match.PIC/AFP
Cousins added that Terry, who has hit the headlines in the past over drinking binges, was a non-smoker.
The Indian Express newspaper reported that the government's Directorate of Visual Publicity had created the health warning, which appears on packets of 20 cigarettes which cost as little as 96 rupees ($1.80).
Terry, 31, who is facing criminal charges in Britain over allegations of racially abusing QPR's Anton Ferdinand, has made 72 appearances for England and is also captain of leading English Premier League side Chelsea.
K.S. Dhatwalia, additional secretary of the Directorate of Visual Publicity, told the Express he was uncertain about the image's origin.
"We sent the creative to the health ministry and they then cleared it and circulated it," he said. "But how Terry's picture got to be used is not clear."
Government advertising departments have landed in trouble in the past for using "cut-and-paste" images taken from elsewhere.
In 2010, there was embarrassment about a newspaper advertising campaign featuring India's athletes ahead of the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Pictures of the athletes were set against planes supposedly emitting the orange, white and green national colours in vapour plumes, but the planes were in fact Italian and the smoke Italy's red, white and green.a