A petition was sent to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) on Friday, seeking the prohibition of smoking on the reality TV show, Big Brother Naija.
The demand was made by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and the Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA), through a letter titled ‘Big Brother Naija Season 6: NBC Should Enforce Ban of Smoking in the Entertainment Sector.’
The civil society organisations (CSOs) stated that the display of smoking on the Big Brother reality TV show had effects on young people, antagonising the efforts of the government to reduce smoking.
The CAPPA and NTCA commended NBC’s earlier prohibition of nudity on the show.
They said the display of smoking on the show was worse due to the possibility of smokers developing complications at a time the country was battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CSOs’ letter made reference to the National Tobacco Control Act 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulations 2019 ,saying that the documents contained specific provisions prohibiting ‘Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship (TAPS).’
In their letter, the groups said that the reality TV 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.”
The groups spelt out Sections 12(1) of the NTC Act, which 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 same section also states that: “no person shall promote or advertise tobacco or tobacco products in any form.”
The groups cited the World Health Organization – Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC) -which Nigeria signed and ratified in 2005.
The regulations in the framework require parties to implement a comprehensive ban on TAPS.
The WHO-FCTC outlines the guidelines for the implementation of its Article 13, which 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.”
They said no effort should be spared to protect the health of the citizenry, urging the NBC to invoke the NTC-Act 2015 and the NTC Regulations 2019 and totally prohibit smoking in the BBN Season 6.
The letter was jointly signed by CAPPA Executive Director Akinbode Oluwafemi and NTCA Programme Manager Chibuike Nwokorie.
Big Brother Naija Season 6 commences on July 18, 2021.