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CSO demands total ban on smoking in Nollywood scenes

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Urges relevant agencies to enforce law against tobacco adverts

As Kannywood collaborates to stem tide

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

As more youths take to smoking cigarettes, a Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, Thursday, demanded total ban on smoking in Nollywood movies as they, directly and indirectly, advertise products of tobacco companies.

This was stated by the Executive Director, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, at a media briefing on ‘Smoke-free Movies’ held in Abuja.

Oluwafemi in his address said tobacco companies in Nigeria have over the years exploited the entertainment industry; films and music videos to entice and force young Nigerians into smoking tobacco without telling them the health dangers that could kill them and jeopardize their future.

He said: “Thus practice has long been documented across he globe and has informed the need for some form of regulation of contents accessible to the young. Such regulations are in place in the US, India, Canada, and some other western nations.

“The World Health Organisation, WHO, former Director, Dr Douglas Bettcher on February 1 st 2016 said, “Wither ever tighter restrictions on tobacco advertising, film remains the last channels exposing millions of adolescents to smoking imagery without restrictions”.

“Nigeria’s weak tobacco control regulations and poor enforcement has also been exploited by the tobacco industry which continues to glamourise smoking on set and in music videos.

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“Since 2020 CAPPA has been spearheading advocacy efforts at building a critical mass to confront the industry’s tactics of wooing the young and uniformed through films and music videos.”

He explained the need for CAPPA to collaborate with Kannywood to tackle the menace in its scenes based on a survey conducted showing about 12 movies displaying tobacco scenes recklessly.

He added that the parley was a follow-up to the first held on November 21, 2020 in Lagos with entertainment stakeholders.

“The need to checkmate the industry and compel stakeholders in the sector to play active roles in the introduction of stringent measures to curb the industry’s strangle hold on the youth population informed.

“Our decision to engage with Kannywood in the north is informed by a research carried out by CAPPA in 2020 to get a clear picture of the depth of the depiction of smoking in Nigerians movies.

“The research looked at recent films fro the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria (Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa) sold in the open market and the indirect ways they were used to advance tobacco products.

“36 recent films were chosen from the three ethnic groups as case studies. Although this number might be considered small, it was however represented enough for the purpose of this study. The genre of the films studied was conducted among the youths as majority viewers and consumers of the films confirmed.

“The 12 Hausa movies sampled are; Arkizin Kano (Kano Wealth), AuduKuri, Daga Wakan Gida, Dije Rama, Don Ali and Fitila, and others are Hausa Horror, Jagwal, Jarumta, Kamfani, Karfin Zuciya and Yaran Alhaji.

“The smoking scenes in the films were not necessary to help the film realise its purpose. The conclusion is that the smoking scenes may have been inserted in the films to promote smoking consciously or unconsciously”, he stated.

Some of CAPPA’s recommendations to film and music stakeholders include Adult rating for films with smoking scenes; Strong anti-smoking adverts; Anti-smoking health warnings; Certify no pay-offs; Stop identification of tobacco brands; and Total ban on tobacco products placements.

“The recommendations are in tandem with the provisions of the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 that prohibit tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships in movies and entertainment”, he said.

Also speaking on the law against advertising tobacco, a legal practitioner, Michael Olaniyan, made it clear that there are subtle ways tobacco companies are hiding under movies and music videos to push their products out to young people, and by so doing exhibit total disregard for the law of the country.

Olaniyan also charged relevant government agencies to enforce the law against tobacco smoking by punishing erring tobacco companies using the movie industry to promote their deadly products to young people.

He added relevant government organisations should wake up to their responsibilities to fight all sorts of tobacco adverts, and also beam their light on the movie industry.

He called for clear warning statements such as ‘tobacco kills’, ‘dangerous to your health’ and others.

He therefore called on Kannywood to enforce provisions of the law, which Nollywood should do same.

However, a movie director in Kannywood, Abdul Ganiyu Bashir, said that, “Smoking has been passed from one generation to the other that in this northern part of the country you see a whole family including father and mother will smoke in the presence of their wards without feeling anything, and these wards see their parents smoking take on with that habit and grow up with that smoking, and that is how children of 10 and 11 years go into smoking.

According to Bashir northerners imbibed smoking habit from coming in contact with Arabs who had earlier come for trade before the coming of the colonial masters. He also called on government agencies to go on thorough public enlightenment campaigns on dangers of tobacco smoking in the north.

“We in Kannywood identifies with the ‘Smoke-free Movie Campaign, and also we welcome sensitisation awareness and collaboration with anti-tobacco groups.

“Kannywood is also ready to produce movies and jingles that have very good points going against smoking.

“Kannywood will want to be part of National Tobacco Control Committee to save our children from the dangers inherent in tobacco smoking”, he stated.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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