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BSG partners Cross River to tackle underage drinking amongst adolescents

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Deputy governor of Cross River flanked by Chairman BSG of MAN,Mr Jordi Borrut  Bel during the relauch of The SMASHED project in Calabar on Tuesday
Deputy governor of Cross River flanked by Chairman BSG of MAN,Mr Jordi Borrut Bel during the relauch of The SMASHED project in Calabar on Tuesday

By Ike Uchechukwu

The Beer Sectoral Group, BSG, of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has concluded arrangements to carry out an advocacy programme against underage drinking in 50 selected in Cross River.

The group revealed that the programme christened “SMASHED” was part of efforts to create awareness about the dangers of underage drinking and so far they have achieved a lot of success in about 5 states and Cross River was next in line .

Speaking during the SMASHED Relaunch project in Calabar on Tuesday, Chairman of BSG of MAN, Mr. Jordi Borrut Bel said that the Project was a global campaign against underage drinking, aimed at educating and enlightening adolescents and the general public on the dangers of underage drinking and ways to prevent and avoid it.

According to him, SMASHED is an initiative of Collingwood Learning UK delivered using thought-provoking drama and interactive workshops to engage adolescents primarily, encouraging them to take a firm stance against underage drinking.

Jordi explained that amongst its various objectives, the BSG drives a vibrant social responsibility agenda adding that in recent times, this has included an annual Don’t Drink & Drive campaign, donation of breathalyzers, SMASHED Project.

His words:” The SMASHED project has engaged over 1 million students internationally and it has been delivered in 25 countries around the world, including UK, Australia, Italy and Brazil.

“In Africa, SMASHED has been delivered in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Nigeria, while the presentation in Nigeria is done by Thespian Family Theatre, a leading theatre production company in Nigeria.

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“The SMASHED Project was introduced in Nigeria in 2018 and has so far been
delivered in Lagos, Abuja FCT, Ogun, Edo, Enugu, Anambra and Delta states,
covering over 100 different localities, both urban and rural.

“It has reached about 35,000 students in over 170 public and private schools in Nigeria and enjoyed the immense cooperation of State Ministries of Education, principals, teachers, guidance counsellors and students – with more of them understanding the risk factors associated with underage drinking and how to detect and prevent such risks
from materializing.

“The BSG plans to continue to deliver SMASHED on an annual basis, with a focus on reaching a minimum of 12,000 students across 60 schools in 3
states in this year alone (referring to Cross River, Delta and Oyo states),” Jordi stated.

Speaking further, Jordi disclosed that the SMASHED Project engages teachers in the schools, enlightening them on how to engage their students on the consequences of underage drinking.

“Thus far, about 95% of teachers engaged say their students came to understand more about underage drinking and its effects after participating in the program, with over 90% saying they feel more confident talking with young people about the dangers of alcohol abuse.

“Parents are also engaged under the SMASHED Project. SMASHED helps them to understand the vulnerability of the teenage years and how to sensitize their children on the dangers of underage drinking.

“This is in addition to encouraging the parents to help preclude their underage children from consuming alcohol by being better role models and talking to them about how to overcome peer pressure during their formative years.

“The SMASHED Project also focuses on helping adolescents build confidence,
especially in the face of peer pressure, as this is considered one of the root causes of underage drinking globally.

“As a socially responsible sector, the BSG will continue to campaign against the harmful use of alcohol and will be glad to partner with and support the government in this regard, as the opportunities arise,” he said.

On his part, Cross River state governor, Prof Ben Ayade said he was fascinated that BSG was at the forefront of such a wonderful campaign adding that Alcohol should be taken by persons above 70 years of age.

Gov. Ayade represents by his deputy, Prof Ivara Esu said that the government was keen to build on such industry insights and have them applied for the benefits of the good people of the state.

Ayade said: ” The SMASHED Project is also aligned with the Cross River State Government’s focus on youth development and empowerment. The SMASHED project will contribute to equipping our youth with the right mindset towards taking care of themselves and making informed choices.

“The SMASHED Project is an educational journey that takes its audience through the reasons why alcohol is not for persons below 18 years and why it is important to abide by this rule.

“It identifies and explores the causes of underage drinking including the roles of peer pressure and social media and it raises awareness of the role of other stakeholders (such as parents, government and media) in addressing the issue of underage drinking.

It is quite instructive that the SMASHED Project is being driven by the industry itself with this campaign, industry makes the emphatic point that it is not solely interested in business, but in the well-being of society and in taking a firm stance against the harmful consumption of alcohol.

“We thus commend the BSG for this timely initiative and encourage the BSG to continue to deliver the SMASHED project across Nigeria, as well as its other social advocacy initiatives,” Ayade said.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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