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‘Over 5m young Nigerians addicted to cigarette’

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) says about five million young Nigerians are addicted to cigarette smoking.

CAPPA’s Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, who disclosed this in Enugu at a National Stakeholders Engagement on Smoke-Free Nollywood, said those five million young Nigerians who have been addicted to smoking are endangering their lives.

Lamenting the dangers inherent in smoking, Oluwafemi said that tobacco smoking has killed over 80 million people globally, adding that 75% of the deaths took place in  developing countries.

The National Stakeholders Engagement on Smoke-Free Nollywood was organised by CAPPA in conjunction with the National Films and Video Censors Board, NFVCB for film makers, actors, and media practitioners.

“Tobacco is a killer. Tobacco currently kills over 8 million people globally with 75% of that coming from the developing countries. Nigeria currently faces a double-burden of Non-communicable Diseases, NCD, which is responsible for about 25% of all the deaths in our country,” he asserts.

He lamented that Nigeria’s future is bleak with over 4 million youth aged between 15 years addicted to smoking cigarettes alone not to talk of other harmful substances people indulge in.

“With more than 5 million young Nigerians aged 15 years addicted to smoking cigarettes, our jobs, not just movie practitioners and industry experts but also parents, is to rise to the occasion and act right to protect our children and prepare for a smoke free future.”

Oluwafemi stated that because of the harmful effect of smoking, especially on the youth, there has been regulations to curtail its consumption and advertisement and as a result tobacco producers have resorted to the film and entertainment industry to market their products, a move the stakeholders engagement is aimed to stop.

Also speaking, the Executive Director, National Films and Video Censors Board, NFVCB, Dr. Shaibu Husseni, lamented the harmful effect of smoking saying that portraying it in videos and media industry will jeopardize the society that is already replete with vices.

Husseni in condemning smoking in film industry said all hands should be on deck to sanitize the industry for better and healthier lives saying that people are affected or influenced by what they see and hear from the society especially movie the industry.

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He said that he expects producers and actors in the movie industry to regulate themselves so that his board would not weld the big stick.

“As you all know, the film industry occupies a central position in the entertainment and creative sector. It is imperative that we continue to place high premium on the progress of the film industry by ensuring that films/video works, musical videos and skits are free of depiction and glamourisation of harmful substances like smoking of tobacco, violence, criminal acts, ritual killing and money ritual,” he admonished.

He regretted that despite the obvious fact that our culture and heritage are part of our existence, “we tend to pay less than optimal attention to the movies that are produced until recently when this group CAPPA decided to reach out to the developers and regulators of the film industry to put an end to the menace of smoking in movies.

“We should be able to move the movie industry forward. Let’s build the industry together. We need to have a smoke free society. People learn from what they see on the screen. I believe that the industry will be number one in Africa,” he declares.

He, however, noted that the NFVCB is the only regulatory body in the film industry established by Decree No. 85 of 1993 now CAP N40, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

“The Board is mandated by law to censor and classify both local and foreign films/video works, register and license distributors, distribution premises, exhibitors and exhibition premises, video club operators, retailers amongst other functions and to regulate the film industry in Nigeria.

Since the inception of the NFVCB, the Nigerian film industry has evolved remarkably in terms of the number of movies produced and their quality,” disclosed.

According to him the NFVCB Act 2004 (as amended) provided for the functions of the Board as follows. “(a) to License: (i) a person to exhibit films and video works; (ii) a premises for the purposes of exhibiting films and video works.”

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He, however, enjoined all the stakeholders in the public and private sectors to see the gathering as an important platform to forge strategic partnership in order to mobilize scarce funding and create innovative models to assist in educating/sensitizing mothers, youth and the general public to combat the hydra-headed menace in the form of unapproved and unclassified content.

“Of recent, we realized that tobacco industries hide under the banner of entertainment to flaunt smoking. The NFVCB is well prepared to take leadership in this regard and has planned and began implementing innovative ways to achieve its mandate, especially at this crucial time when the National Assembly is insisting that there is “Need to Curb the Rising Spate of Cultism, Trafficking, Consumption of Illicit Drugs and other Substances among Youths in Nigeria”.

“The Board had been urged to undertake detailed enlightenment programs in secondary schools, tertiary institutions, local communities, faith groups and other institutions, as well as impose restrictions on home movies promoting social vices.”

Ede Nwa Ede
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