A non-governmental organisation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, and the Kannywood movie producers have made a strong case for a partnership between tobacco control advocates and movie stakeholders in northern Nigeria to checkmate the menace of smoking scenes portrayed glamorously in movies.
Both organisations made the call at a briefing in Abuja, which had the Chair of Kannywood Women Association of Nigeria, K-WAN, Hauwa Bello, and a movie director, Abdul Ganiyu Bashir in attendance.
CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said the practice of enticing kids to take to smoking through movies has long been documented by the World Health Organisation, WHO, and has informed the need for some form of regulation of contents accessible to the young.
Oluwafemi noted that in Nigeria, weak tobacco control regulations and poor enforcement of provisions prohibiting tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorships in the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 have been exploited by the tobacco industry to promote their products.
The CAPPA boss disclosed that since 2020 CAPPA has been spearheading advocacy efforts at building a critical mass to confront the industry’s tactics and compel stakeholders in the sector to play active roles in the introduction of stringent measures to curb smoking in movies.
To understand the depth of the industry’s manipulation of movies to reach kids, he revealed that CAPPA conducted research on recent films produced in Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa languages which showed a disturbing trend.
According to him, in all, 36 films were chosen. The 12 Hausa movies sampled showed a prevalence of glamourisation of smoking in scenes.
He stressed that the engagement with Kannywood stakeholders to rid films produced in the region of smoking scenes was relevant because they are role models, influencers of the youths and key to the reorientation of youth smokers.
He listed CAPPA recommendations to the stakeholders to include the placement of adult rating for films with smoking scenes; strong anti-smoking adverts; anti-smoking health warnings; certify no pay-offs from the tobacco industry; stopping identification of tobacco brands and a total ban on tobacco products placement.
In her intervention, the Chairpman of K-WAN expressed sadness that smoking prevalence was more in northern Nigeria.
She explained that Kannywood, as a body, identifies with the Smoke-Free Movies campaign and welcomes sensitisation of its members on areas of collaboration with anti-tobacco groups.
She, however, explained that that the National Tobacco Control Committee, NATOCC, should allow the body be part of it so it can contribute its bit to a smoke-free Nigeria starting with smoke-free movies.
On his part, Abdul Ganiyu Bashir stressed that a lot of work would be needed to change the perception of the young smokers and that Kannywood is ready to play crucial roles in ensuring movies produced by its members are devoid of depictions that glamourise smoking.