Stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry, Nollywood, have called for the immediate commencement of enforcement of the ban on Tobacco Advertising Promotion and Sponsorships as contained in the National Tobacco Control (NTC) Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019.

They also called for the setting up of a working group of practitioners to partner with the regulatory agencies to come up with a Code of Practice for practitioners in the media and entertainment space as regards smoking in movies. Noting that while tobacco remains the number one preventable risk factor for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), six years after the passage of the National Tobacco Control Act and two years after passage of the Tobacco Control Regulations, enforcement of the laws have been very slow.

These were part of the recommendations contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a one-day Stakeholders’ Summit on Smoking in movies (#Smokefreenollywood). The summit, which was held recently in Lagos, Nigeria, was convened by Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) to familiarise stakeholders with provisions of the NTC Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 that pertain to smoking in movies and entertainment sector; build Consensus on the enforcement of provisions of the NTC Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 in the media and entertainment sector; build a community of champions for the #Smokefreenollywood campaign; and increase awareness creation on the NTC Act and the TC Regulations by the National Orientation Agency and other relevant agencies with specific focus on the TAPS menace in movies and music videos.

The meeting brought together relevant regulatory agencies of government and stakeholders in the entertainment and media sectors to discuss ways of enforcing provisions of the Act and the National Tobacco Control Regulations that apply to the entertainment and media sectors in Nigeria.

Significantly, participants were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Health, the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), National Orientation Agency (NOA), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), the Nigeria Police, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) and Gatefield Limited were also in attendance. Practitioners in attendance included members of the Association of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP), the Golden Movies Ambassador, Directors Guild of Nigeria, Motion Picture Practitioners’ Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), and the Kannywood Women Association of Nigeria (K-WAN), among others. The welcome address was delivered by CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, while the lead presentation on Tobacco as a Public Health Burden was by Dr. Oluwakemi Odukoya, Associate Professor of Public Health, College of Medicine, University of Lagos. Legal and Policy Frameworks Towards Effective Tobacco Control in Nigeria – The Journey So Far, was the focus of the presentation by the representative of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Emmanuel Agbons Abraham. Barrister Michael Olaniyan of CTFK also delivered a paper on Highlights of the NTC-Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 Provisions on Smoking in the Entertainment Industry.

At the end of the deliberations and robust panel sessions, participants observed that “the delay in the enforcement of sections of the National Tobacco Control Act and the Tobacco Control Regulations, especially the provision banning Tobacco, Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorships (TAPS) has emboldened the tobacco industry to addict more kids through movies and entertainment sector.” They also observed that the media and entertainment sector are the tobacco industry’s new playground to entice and lure kids to the smoking habit; the prevalence of smoking scenes and product placement in Nollywood movies portray smoking as acceptable and classy; and that the needed synergy among government agencies to combat the tobacco menace is still lacking.

The summit, therefore, also recommended regular interface by practitioners and regulators in the relevant agencies to achieve smoke-free media and entertainment sector; adequate monitoring of spaces that kids interface including cartoons for tobacco industry activities; and establishment of Tobacco Control Desk in all the enforcement agencies for enforcement exercises at national and state levels.

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