CAPPA – Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa

Nollywood Stakeholders Push To End Smoking Scenes In Movies

Stakeholders in the Nigerian movie industry, otherwise known as Nollywood have agreed to further tobacco control advocacy targeted at putting an end to smoking scenes in movies in line with the National Tobacco Control Act (NTC) 2015 and its regulations passed in 2019.

At a Stakeholders’ Roundtable organised in Lagos by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture and the National Film and Videos Censors Board (NFVCB) in collaboration with Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), practitioners and regulators observed that smoking in movies and the entertainment sector is a pathway to young people embracing smoking.

The meeting brought together regulators and a broad-spectrum of stakeholders in the movies and entertainment sector including producers, script writers, distributors and exhibitors as well as veteran and current actors and actresses, including stakeholders in the public health sector to brainstorm on prevalence of smoking scenes in movies.

The New Diplomat reports that the NTC Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations gazetted in 2019, had prohibited tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships in movies and entertainment. Section 12 of the NTC Act also states clear provisions for warnings that should accompany any tobacco depiction in movies necessary for “Historical Accuracy and Artistic Expression” alone. However, the enforcement of the provisions has been dragging since the laws came into effect six years ago.

Some of the stakeholders who expressed concerns about growing evidence linking the entertainment industry with the uptake of tobacco use and worried by its impact on public health, said more awareness on the dangers of smoking in movies and the entertainment sector is needed to successfully implement the smoking regulations in film productions.

NFVCB Executive Director/CEO, Adedayo Thomas briefed participants about the role of his agency as a regulator of the films and video industry in Nigeria, noting that collaborating with stakeholders to stop smoking scenes in movies is pivotal to ensuring that Nollywood continues to maintain its enviable position as one of the biggest movie hubs in the world while projecting Nigeria and Africa in good light, especially in relation to advancing African culture and values.

Thomas added that the NFVCB will escalate its awareness creation and education among relevant stakeholders in the movies and entertainment sectors to ensure compliance with national laws especially the NTC Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 in relation to the ban on tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorships, assuring that all practitioners henceforth will adhere to the relevant laws of Nigeria particularly as it pertains to smoking in movies in their film productions.

Ace Nollywood actor, Saheed Balogun, while speaking with The New Diplomat expressed support for a strict enforcement of the ban on smoking scenes in Nollywood movies, saying “My take is there should be a strict law guiding us the movie makers. Like we had a discussion on that. I pray we have a universal law guiding it. But I support the idea, totally support the idea of tobacco free movies. And if we do, we should make it clear that smoking is dangerous to your health. Do not try this.”

Balogun, who is the President of Golden Movie Ambassador of Nigeria urged celebrities and social media influencers to embrace attitude and values that would enable them serve as good role models to young people who often look up to them in many respects.

“I think personally apart from the entertainers advertising blah, blah, blah, we the entertainers should mind what we do outside, we should mind what we place on our social media, because somebody somewhere is watching us if I should hold a cigarette on my social media, you would see the young ones, my fans, will think I’m doing the right thing. We should be mindful of what we do totally.”

He added that movie makers can depict a tough character on set without making him or her to puff the smoke by innovating and bringing more creativity into their act.

“I shot online, but after meeting with the tobacco free people, I had to take out the smoking scene, because I felt.. I can tell it better than showing a smoking guy. There are films you can make do without it. There are some films you don’t have a choice. You want to show a ghetto film where there’s smoke. I mean, you can just be talking. But once you do such, please write underneath ‘smoking is dangerous to your health’. As we are educated, we should educate more.” Saheed Balogun said.

President, Directors’ Guild of Nigeria, Victor Okhai said to stop glamourization of tobacco on set, conscious efforts must be made by all relevant stakeholders. Okhai noted that it all begins with the type of message conveyed through movies. “So in our messaging, we are more conscious, that we are not purveyors of death through the stick if you like, you know, so it’s timely.

“I think it’s important that this time we make a conscious effort to paint tobacco in this proper light as something dangerous as something unglamorous as something that is not so cool. Because tobacco has been portrayed as something cool before now, but it’s our job now to be able to make it as not so cool. And we’re able to do that. I think it’s going to be very effective.” Okhai added.

Stakeholders also called on the federal ministry of health to operationalize the Tobacco Control Fund which is expected to open opportunities for movies and entertainment sector operators to play crucial roles in awareness creation and sensitization in relation to smoking in movies.

They also demanded that the NFVCB and Nollywood practitioners be represented in the operationalization of the fund.

Source: The New Diplomat

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