By Jerry Aguigbo
The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has called time on smoking in Nigerian movies.
Speaking on the dangers of tobacco and the continuous use of smoking scenes in NOLLYWOOD, at an event recently, Akinbode Olufemi, the Executive Director CAPPA lamented at the frequent use of smoking scenes in Nigerian movies which he says are misleading and portends dangerous and dire consequences to youths and unsuspecting viewers.
The use of tobacco he lamented, has become a menace while the World Health Organisation (WHO) says kills as much as 6 million people annually and it’s projected to kill as much as 8 million people by the turn of the year 2030, if no drastic measures are taken.
Continuing, Chief Akinbode said, that “tobacco use as we know, is a leading cause of preventable death in the world and a risk factor for several noncommunicable diseases including cancers, cardiovascular ailments, diabetes me mellitus and chronic respiratory sicknesses.”
The tobacco industry is alleged to have been using many seemingly harmless channels to get the youths addicted to these harmful products.
The World Health Organisation ( WHO) has identified movies and entertainment materials as most veritable tools for transfer of ideas and promotion of alternative lifestyles. The youth, 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, according to Akinbode, has a track record of giving misleading impression of tobacco use through movies and music videos and it has continued to entice and addict young persons. The WHO framework Convention on tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) which Nigeria is a signatory to and has ratified, requires parties to implement a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
A host of countries we were told, have put in place measures to ensure their youth population is protected from the industry’s antics.
Citing the USA as an example of a country with a grip on it’s protectionist policy, he says following the 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.
Similarly, the India Central Board of film and Canada Control Board have banned tobacco placement and showing of brand names.
Here in Nigeria, a screening of 10 randomly selected movies by tobacco control activists in 2007 showed that the tobacco industry might have been using NOLLYWOOD to promote tobacco smoking. The 10 movies screened at the time were, Million dollar sisters, Fatal Seduction, Battle for Battle, Holy Warden, GL2, and Virgin Heart. Others are, Games Angels Play, War Game, Living in Pain and my Own Share.
Following this discovery, tobacco Control activists reported the preponderance of scenes glamorising tobacco smoking.
There were Instances of brand placements in GL2, Virgin Heart, Million Dollar Sisters, Fatal Seduction, Battle for Battle and War Game where British American Tobacco’s Benson and Hedges and London were the culprit.
To stem this ugly trend, CAPPA recommends among other measures, a strong Anti- Smoking Adverts shown before the start movies, entertainment, TV or online programs containing tobacco products.
Anti-Smoking Health Warnings, Certify No pay Offs, Stopping Identification of Tobacco Brands and a Total Ban on Tobacco Products Placements in movies, entertainment and music videos.