Two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called on relevant stakeholders in the entertainment industry to stop using smoking scenes in movies, music videos and product placements.
The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the call would assist in reducing the exposures of children to smoking in the country.
Speaking at a news conference in Abuja on Thursday, April 8, 2021, the Executive Director of CAPPA, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that, even if the stakeholders used smoking scenes to drive a point, such should be rated as adult movie.
The news conference had the Chair of Kannywood Women Association of Nigeria (K-WAN), Hauwa Bello, and a movie director, Abdul Ganiyu Bashir, in attendance.
According to Oluwafemi, movies and entertainment materials are veritable tools for transfer of ideas and promotion of alternative lifestyles.
“Youths are initiated into using tobacco products through advertising and subliminal promotion of smoking scenes in movies, music videos and product placements.
“The tobacco industry has exploited the entertainment sector (films and music videos) to entice and conscript young people into smoking.
“This practice has long been documented across the globe and has informed the need for some forms of regulation of contents accessible to the young.
“Such regulations are in place in the U.S, India, Canada, and some other western nations,’’ Oluwafemi said.
He recalled the statement made by the former Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Douglas Bettcher, on Feb.1, 2016.
Oluwafemi quoted him as saying: “With ever tighter restrictions on tobacco advertising, film remains one of the last channels exposing millions of adolescents to smoking imagery without restrictions.”
The executive director of CAPPA called on the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON) and other agencies saddled with the responsibilities of enforcing the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 to do the needful.
According to him, the enforcement of the nation’s tobacco control regulations has also been exploited by the tobacco industry, which continues to glamourise smoking on set and in music videos.
“Since 2020, CAPPA has been spearheading advocacy efforts at building a critical mass to confront the industry’s tactics of wooing the young and uninformed through films and music videos.
“There is need to checkmate the industry and compel stakeholders in the sector to play active roles in the introduction of stringent measures to curb the industry’s strangle hold on the youth population,’’ Oluwafemi said.
This, he added, made CAPPA to organise its meeting held on Nov. 21 in Lagos with Nollywood stakeholders.
“Our decision to engage with Kannywood stakeholders in the North is informed by a research carried out by CAPPA in 2020 to get a clear picture of the depth of the depiction of smoking in Nigerian movies.
“The research looked at recent films from the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria (lgbo, Yoruba, and Hausa), sold in the open market and the indirect ways they were used to advance tobacco products.’’
He said that 36 recent films were chosen from the three ethnic groups as case studies.
“Although, these numbers might be considered small, it was, however, representative enough for the purpose of this study.
“The genre of the films studied are at the time the study was conducted the most popular among youths as majority viewers and consumers of the films confirmed.
“The 12 Hausa movies sampled are: Arkizin Kano (Kano Wealth), AuduKuri, Daga Wakan Gida, Dije Rama, Don Ali and Fitila.
“Others are Hausa Horror, Jagwal, Jarumta, Kamfani, Karfin Zuciya and Yaran Alhaji,’’ Oluwafemi said.
He said that respondents to the questionnaire on the Hausa movies agreed that all the 12 films had smoking scenes and glamorised smoking.
“The smoking scenes in the films were not necessary to help the film realise its purpose.
“The conclusion is that the smoking scenes may have been inserted in the films to promote smoking consciously or unconsciously,’’ the executive director said.
Also, Mr Michael Olaniyan, the Technical Resource Officer, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 contain provisions prohibiting tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship in movies and entertainment, with some exceptions.
Olaniyan called on the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria and other agencies to enforce the laws.
Abdul Ganiyu Bashiru, a Movie Director, expressed Kannywood’s readiness to collaborate with CAPPA and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to address menace associated with smoking scenes in movies and music videos.
He noted that kids as young as 10-11 years in northern Nigeria see smoking as normal because it is a culture that has been passed from one generation to the other since the north’s contact with Arabs who were traditionally smokers.
Ganiyu stressed that a lot of work would be needed to change the perception of the young smokers and that Kannywood is ready to play crucial roles in ensuring movies produced by its members are devoid of depictions that glamourise smoking.
In her intervention, Chairperson of K-WAN expressed sadness that smoking prevalence was more in northern Nigeria, even as she explained that Kannywood as a body identifies with the Smoke-free Movies campaign and welcome sensitization of its members on areas of collaboration with anti-tobacco groups.
She however explained that that the National Tobacco Control Committee (NATOCC) should allow the body be part of it so that it can contribute its bit to a smoke-free Nigeria starting with smoke-free movies.
By Deji Abdulwahab