Nollywood Guilds pledge support for smoke-free films campaign

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By Joshua Olomu

Leaders and representatives of various guilds and associations in the Nigerian film industry have pledged their support for the campaign against smoking and consumption of harmful substances in Nollywood films.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the thespians made the commitment during a National Stakeholders Engagement on Smoke-Free Nollywood held in Enugu on Tuesday.

The event was organised by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) and the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).

Representatives of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP), Directors, Guild of Nigeria (DGN), Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and the Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN), were among those who attended the event.

Others included foremost Nollywood filmmakers Fred Amata, Teco Benson, Zeb Ejiro and representatives of the Nigerian Film Corporation(NFC), among other stakeholders.

In his opening address, Dr Shaibu Husseini, Executive Director of NFVCB, said the sensitisation programme was to educate stakeholders on the danger inherent in smoking in Nigerian movies.

According to him, besides the health implications, glamourisation of smoking in films poses negative influence on teens and young adults who constitute the largest segment of Nigeria movie viewers.

“As you all know, the film industry occupies a central position in the entertainment and creative sector and it is imperative that we continue to place the highest premium on the progress of the film industry.

“The NFVCB supports smoke-free movies and supports smoke-free Nollywood, and we, therefore, seek your collaboration to develop creative content that discourages smoking and promotes positive health messages.

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“In spite of 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.

“This continued until recently when 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.

“The NFVCB is well prepared to take leadership in this regard and has planned and began implementing innovative ways to achieve its mandate.

“The measure is particularly important 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,” he said.

At the end of proceedings in the sensitisation workshop, participants, including delegates of the various guilds present, unanimously pledged their support for a smoke-free Nollywood.

They assured members of the public that moving forward, they would ensure that smoking and other vices are not glamourised, especially in films meant for children and young adults.

Blessing Ebigieson, AMP National President said: “Filmmaking starts as an idea and story writing before you can assemble cast and crew, and that is our work as producers.

“So, our members shall ensure that stories, especially the ones for films for children, do not have smoking scenes.”

Mr Victor Okhai, National President of DGN said: “It is our children we are talking about here; we shall ensure that they are protected from smoking by ensuring they are not exposed to such films.”

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However, Salisu Muazu, Secretary General of MOPPAN, emphasised the need for intensive education on the menace of smoking in films and offered to produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA).

Mr Patrick Lee, who represented the Cinemas Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN), said members would ensure that PSAs against smoking in films are exhibited.

Earlier in his presentation, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director of CAPPA, said there was need to reverse how movies and music videos presented smoking and tobacco use as a ‘cool way of life’.

“Tobacco is a killer and it currently kills over eight million people annually, with over 75 per cent of this from developing countries, where unfortunately Nigeria belongs.

“Today, smoking still remains very prevalent in our movies, in contravention of the NTC Act and the Tobacco Control Regulations 2019, which explicitly prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorships in movies and entertainment.

“As we tell the Nigerian story, shape our future and build a society that is genuinely productive, we strongly believe that Nollywood has a role to play in stopping non-communicable diseases in Nigeria,” he said.(NAN) (nannews.ng)

Edited by Abiemwense Moru

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