Smoking in Movies Photo: The Hill

Consumer safety and renewed campaign against smoking in Nigerian films

*#SmokeFreeNollywood campaign and National Film and the Video Censors Board (NFVCB) have jointly launched a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for consumer education on the harmful effects smoking in films has on children watching some Nigerian home videos

*We have to protect families, youths from harmful images encouraging tobacco use ─WHO

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

In regard to the apparent harmful effects smoking in movies has especially on children, the Smoke-Free Nollywood, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), and National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) have launched a digital media campaign to discourage smoking scenes in home movies, which families and children watch in the West African country.

ConsumerConnect reports Nigeria’s film industry, also known as Nollywood, has been adjudged as the world’s second-largest producer of films, behind India’s Bollywood.

Ms. Esther Aghotor, Creative Director of Smoke-Free Nollywood, disclosed the launch of the digital media campaign against smoking in Nollywood movies in a statement issued Tuesday, February 1, 2022, in Abuja, FCT.

Ms. Aghotor Tuesday stated that the two organisations jointly released a visual Public Service Announcement (PSA) via #SmokeFreeNollywood on the harmful implications smoking in movies has on children on social media platforms.

Nigerian Government endorses ‘Children Are Watching’ sensitisation video

The Creative Director of the NGO said that the Federal Ministries of Health, Information and Culture as well as other stakeholders had endorsed the release of the PSA advocacy video titled, “Children Are Watching”.

She also stated: “The #SmokeFreeNollywood  campaign  and the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) launched a Public Service Announcement (PSA) on smoking in  films watched by children.

“The PSA video titled, ‘Children are watching’ showcased the harmful effects of smoking in movies significantly, as they influence underage members of their audience.”

Aghotor further noted: “According to research, more than one-third of current adult smokers started smoking due to the influence of films.

“The partnership with the National Film and Video Censors Board shows the agency’s commitment to promoting public health and safety of movie watchers, particularly children who are the most impressionable members of the society.”

The Creative Director said: “Recall that the Nigeria National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act of 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 prohibit the advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco products in entertainment.”

The statement as well noted the PSA video, among other cast, features popular veteran actress and filmmaker Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde, who called on her industry colleagues to avoid promoting tobacco products in movies in the interest of public health.

Refernecing the World Health Organisation (WHO) stats, the Smoke-Free Nollywood stated that over 370,000 Nigerians smoke cigarettes, and tobacco is the leading cause of cancers globally.

The organisation recalled the #SmokeFreeNollywood, in 2021, had released an entertainment industry PSA in support of the campaign from influential Nollywood stars, including Jalade-Ekeinde, Dakore Egbuson-Akande.

Others included Osas Ighodaro, Anto Lecky, Meg Otanwa, Michelle Dede, Kayode Kasum, Daniel Effiong, Linda Ejiofor, Kiki Omeili, and Imoh Emmanuel Chimezie, it stated.

WHO supports #SmokeFreeNollywood fight against tobacco use in films

ConsumerConnect reports the #SmokeFreeNollywood campaign agisnt tobacco use in Nigerian films also has received the attention and support of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for some time now.

A WHO report indicates the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood, produces about 2,000 films annually.

The industry also employs an estimated one million people.

According to the report, it is the reach of Nigeria’s creativity through its films as well as its power to influence the youths that triggered a campaign by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

CAPPA, WHO noted, is calling for the removal of the harmful glamorisation of smoking and tobacco use in films.

Advocacy for complete ban of tobacco use in films

With the movement #SmokeFreeNollywood, the global health body noted that the group seeking a complete ban of tobacco use in films, and across the Nigerian entertainment industry, including music and television.

The first step, CAPPA stated, is to enforce the two existing laws that already prohibit the use, promotion or sponsorship of tobacco in films in Nigeria.

The groups also wants the change to come from within the industry through self-regulation of some sort.

CAPPA specifically, has asked the actors, directors, musicians and producers in the Nollywood to learn about “the harm they may be encouraging, and to take a stand against the use of tobacco in their storytelling.”

Dr. Kelias Msyamboza, Medical Officer at Nigeria WHO Country Office, said: “One in five adolescents in Africa use tobacco products; it’s an urgent issue.

“Nollywood films and Nigerian music videos are watched by families and youths in Nigeria and beyond.

“We have to protect them from harmful images encouraging tobacco use.”

The WHO and Federal Ministry of Health have been supporting the #SmokeFreeNollywood movement through advocacy and training with filmmakers and stakeholders, said the transnational health body.

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