To stop smoking in music and movies and protect the youths from diseases and death, the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has flagged off the campaign #SmokefreeNollywood.
The Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi in his welcome address said “ Our engagement with the key entertainment stakeholders is because they are role models, influencers of our youths and relevant in ensuring Nigerian films are compliant with the WHO-FCTC and Nigeria’s National Tobacco Control Act and its regulations.
According to Oluwafemi, tobacco menace which the World Health Organisation (WHO) notes, kills as much as six million people annually, and is projected to kill as much as 8 million people by the year 2030 if nothing is done about it.
“ Tobacco use, as we know, is a leading cause of preventable death in the world and a risk factor for several non-communicable diseases including cancers, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes mellitus, and chronic respiratory sicknesses.
“ Art is life, Tobacco is Death! The tobacco industry uses many seemingly harmless channels to addict the youth. The youths, 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 placement.
“ The tobacco industry has a track record of giving misleading impression of tobacco use. Through movies and music videos it has continued to entice and addict young persons. The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which Nigeria is signatory to, and has ratified, requires parties to implement a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship.
The guidelines for implementation of Article 13 of the WHO-FCTC includes a statement that the depiction of tobacco use in films is a form of promotion that influences tobacco use, particularly by young people, and include specific measures, which are addressed more fully in the WHO report.
He further stated a lot of countries have put in place measures to ensure their youth population is protected from the industry’s antics. Following the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement in the US, the movie and music industry started putting in place policies to check the influence of the tobacco industry in movies and music.
India’s Central Board of Film Certification also banned tobacco product placement or showing of brand names. In Canada, similar policies are in place.
He recalls in 2007, a screening of 10 randomly selected movies by tobacco control activists in Nigeria showed that the tobacco industry might have been using Nollywood to promote tobacco smoking. The ten movies screened at the time were Million Dollar Sisters, Fatal Seduction, Battle for Battle, Holy warden, GL2, Virgin Heart, Games Angel Play, War Game, Living in Pain and My Own Share.
Following this discovery, tobacco control activists reported the preponderance of scenes that glamourize smoking. In the screened movies, tobacco smoking was portrayed to be widespread, socially acceptable, desirable, and classy.
Oluwafemi recommends there should be adult rating for films with smoking scenes as well as strong anti-smoking adverts. Others include anti-smoking health warnings and certify no pay offs. Stop identification of tobacco brands and total ban on tobacco products placements.