Groups write NBC, demand prohibition of smoking in Big Brother Naija show

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By Henry Okonkwo

The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa and the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance have sent a petition to the National Broadcasting Commission asking the agency to prohibit smoking in the Big Brother Naija Season 6 which commences on Saturday, July 24, 2021.

CAPPA and NTCA addressed the letter to the Director-General of the NBC, Mr. Babalola Shehu Ilelah.

The groups commended the agency for the prohibition of nudity on the show but also wants it to extend its radar to smoking, which is glamourised on the show.

The letter jointly signed by CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi, and NTCA Programme Manager, Chibuike Nwokorie, drew NBC’s attention to the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 that contain specific provisions that prohibit Tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

Sections 12(1) of the NTC Act defines tobacco advertising and promotion to include “any form of commercial communication, recommendation, or action with the aim, effect, or likely effect of promoting a tobacco product or tobacco use directly or indirectly.

The section states that, “no person shall promote or advertise tobacco or tobacco products in any form.”

They also referenced the World Health Organisation – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that Nigeria has signed and ratified, which requires parties to implement a comprehensive ban on Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship.

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“Specifically, the guidelines for the implementation of Article 13 of the WHO-FCTC includes a statement that the depiction of tobacco use in films is a form of promotion that influences tobacco use, particularly by young people.

“The WHO states that movies and entertainment materials are the most veritable tools of the tobacco industry which has been instrumental in the transfer of ideas and promotion of alternative lifestyles to kids. The kids, generally impressionable, are enticed by what they see and are initiated into using tobacco products through advertising and subliminal promotion of smoking scenes in movies, music videos and product placements.”

While noting that the BBN show on the pay TV and DSTV platforms is one of the biggest shows on the Nigerian screen watched by millions of youth, they stressed that since its inception, the show has been notorious for promoting smoking among housemates, with cigarettes conspicuously displayed and smoked recklessly in total disregard to the health of possible non-smoker housemates.

They urged the NBC to therefore invoke the NTC-Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 and totally prohibit smoking in the BBN Season 6, pointing out that at this point in a global pandemic, no effort should be spared to protect the health of the citizenry.

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