The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, CAPPA, and Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance, NTCA, has sent a petition to the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, asking the agency to prohibit smoking in the Big Brother Naija Season 6, which commences on July 18.
CAPPA and NTCA’s letter, titled “Big Brother Naija Season 6: NBC Should Enforce Ban of Smoking in the Entertainment Sector”, was addressed to the Director-General of NBC, Mr. Babalola Shehu Ilelah.
According to a statement by Philip Jakpor, CAPPA’s Director of Programmes, in the letter, CAPPA and NTCA commended the agency for the prohibition of nudity on the show, but also want it to extend its radar to smoking, “which is glamourised on the show”.
However, they noted, the preponderance of smoking in the BBN has huge impression on the youths at a time the government is working to reduce smoking initiation.
“And it is even worse at a period the country is battling with COVID -19 pandemic, since it has been established that smokers have greater possibility of developing complications or even death if they contract the coronavirus,” the groups said.
The letter, jointly signed by CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, and NTCA Programme Manager, Chibuike Nwokorie, drew NBC’s attention to the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 that contain specific provisions that prohibit Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship, TAPS.
“Sections 12(1) of the NTC Act define tobacco advertising and promotion to include ‘any form of commercial communication, recommendation, or action with the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use directly or indirectly’.
“The section states that ‘no person shall promote or advertise tobacco or tobacco products in any form’.”
They also referenced the World Health Organisation – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, WHO-FCTC, that Nigeria has signed and ratified, which requires parties to implement a comprehensive ban on TAPS.
“Specifically, the guidelines for the implementation of Article 13 of the WHO-FCTC include a statement that the depiction of tobacco use in films is a form of promotion that influences tobacco use, particularly by young people.
“The WHO states that movies and entertainment materials are the most veritable tools of the tobacco industry, which has been instrumental in the transfer of ideas and promotion of alternative lifestyles to kids.
“The kids, generally impressionable, are enticed by what they see and are initiated into using tobacco products through advertising and subliminal promotion of smoking scenes in movies, music videos and product placements,” they warned.
While noting that the BBN show is one of the biggest on the Nigerian screen watched by millions of youths, they stressed that since inception, the show has been notorious for promoting smoking among housemates, with cigarettes conspicuously displayed and smoked recklessly in total disregard to the health of possible non-smoker housemates.
They urged the NBC to, therefore, invoke the NTC-Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 and totally prohibit smoking in the BBN Season 6.
The right groups pointed out that at this point in a global pandemic, no effort should be spared to protect the health of the citizenry.