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Stakeholders agree to work for #SmokefreeNollywood

The cream of the Nollywood industry has agreed to work to see to the end of activities of tobacco industry in the film and video sector of the Nigerian entertainment sector.

This was the consensus at a one-day Stakeholders’ Summit on Smoking In Movies (#SmokefreeNollywood) held in Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Speaking at the event the Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), said while “Arts celebrates life and gives expression to our being and humanity, tobacco is death… tobacco is a pollutant of great art of pure mind and soul.”

He emphasized that with the tobacco advertising ban in place in almost every country in the world, the tobacco industry is embracing ‘covert below the line’ platforms to keep their products in the hearts and minds of potential customers.

He accused the tobacco industry and their promoters of using unwholesome tactics to get their products to consumers knowing that movies are powerful tool especially among the young.

According to him, “They have identified the use of movies and entertainment as the new advertisement and promotion frontier.” He sought the cooperation of the Nollywood leaders saying, Nigeria will not be alone in banning smoking scenes in movies as several countries and platforms have done so years back. Among such bans have been in Hollywood, Bollywood, Netflix, Disney, Warner Bros among others. He urged them to see this as their contribution to a noble objective of ridden the country of preventable non communicable disease.

Oluwafemi observed, “We strongly think that going beyond enforcing the law, as stakeholders, it is now time for us to start the discourse on some basic Code of Conduct for the industry as it relates to smoking in movies. There are areas we want stakeholders here present to consider.

“They include adult rating for films with smoking scenes, strong anti-smoking adverts, anti-smoking health warnings, certify pay offs, stopping identification of tobacco brands, total ban on tobacco products placement and stop glamourisation of smoking.”

Speaking as a public health specialist, Dr. Oluwakemi Odukoya, an Associate Professor of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Lagos said tobacco contains over 7,000 chemicals and 70 carcinogens that are damaging to public health.

She described the tobacco industry as a “vector” with “high burden of preventable diseases,” and poverty, adding that it affects reproductive sector as “half of the victims die in the middle age (35-69 years).”

In his paper on legal and policy framework for control of tobacco, Abraham Emmanuel who stood in for the Tobacco Desk Officer of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abraham Emmanuel, gave a brief on what the ministry has achieved and hope to achieve in combating the menace of tobacco in the country. On her part, Ms Hilda Ochefu, of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said it was time to protect kids from the claws of tobacco manufacturers who use different lifestyles to promote their products. She observed, “It is time to protect the young from a life of addiction to tobacco. Let’s make Nollywood smoke free.”

The summit which was attended by men of the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and a host of others agreed that it was time to support the campaign for a tobacco free movie.

Other stakeholders such as the Actors Guild of Nigeria, Kannywood Women Association of Nigeria, Representatives of Netflix as well as Theatre Arts and Motion Practitioners of Nigeria all promised to join hands with CAPPA to work towards the goal of the summit.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) 370,000 children in Nigeria smoke daily and most get the inducted through watching them in movies.

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