ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi (left) presenting the top prize to the winner, Okuguni Ferdinand.

By Agbonkhese Oboh

Winners have emerged in the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, Tobacco Control Rap Challenge.

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Lagos-based Okuguni Ferdinand won the top prize of N150,000 at the grand finale in Lagos, Friday, with tobacco control advocates and youth groups in attendance.

The competition, which started on September 2, targeted creating awareness on enforcement of the National Tobacco Control, NTC, Act 2015 and Tobacco Regulations to the youths through a music competition tagged #TCRapChallenge and #EnforceTCRegNow.

Provisions of the NTC Act that the campaign promotes are the ban on sale of cigarettes in single sticks and ban on sale of cigarettes to minors. The Regulations were approved by the National Assembly in May.

The first runner-up was Udeng Etido, based in Enugu, who received N100,000. Adeogun Yinka, Oyo; Atiku Goddy, Abuja, and Udeng Bennet, Anambra, each got N50,000.

Speaking at the event, ERA/FoEN Social Media Officer, Adewunmi Adeniyi said: “The TCRap Challenge is a reflection of ERA/FoEN belief that the youth are crucial in tobacco control.

“From the diversity of the winners, it can be concluded that Nigerian youths yearn for effective regulation of tobacco products and reject tobacco industry attempts to conscript them into the smoking habit.

“Our knowledge of how the tobacco industry targets the youths made us conceive this initiative to reach the same audience that the tobacco industry targets as replacement smokers.”

Extra motivation

As motivation to further spread the anti-tobacco use campaign, the winners will get studio sessions, tobacco control branded T-shirts, phones and cash prizes, among other gifts.

While presenting the top prize to Ferdinand, ERA/FoEN Deputy Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi said: “We are happy that the youths targeted by tobacco companies have demonstrated through music that despite the tobacco industry strategies to grow replacement smokers, they can make the right choices.

A statement by Philip Jakpor, ERA/FoEN Head of Media & Campaigns said the TC Rap Challenge received nearly 400 entries and participants on ERA/FoEN social media platforms, which recorded over one million reach on Facebook, over 500,000 reach on Instagram.

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During the campaign, the hashtag #TCRapChallenge and #EnforceTCRegNow trended two times within two weeks of commencement, was over 1,180 tweets with 480 retweets and 550 replies during the campaign.

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