The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has read the riot act to organisers of the popular reality television programme Big Brother Naija (BBN) against on-screen smoking by its participants.
In 2021, the programme, hosted on the GOTV and DSTV platforms, sparked public outrage when its participants flagrantly smoked on live Televisio.
NTCA Program officer, Chibuike Nwokorie, at a press conference drew the attention of the Nigeria Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) to proactively engage the organizers of the show billed to start its 7th session to ensure that there is no repeat of last year’s violations.
The group threatened to invoke relevant provisions of the national tobacco control (NTC) Act which provides for a penalty of up to five million, or imprisonment of offenders for a period ranging from six months to five years.
The group charged agencies of government tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the NTC Act and its Regulations to work together and ensure that the ban on direct and indirect tobacco advertising promotion and sponsorship is comprehensively implemented in Nigeria in line with Article 13 of The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
It noted: “We wish to make it clear that should there be a reluctance on the part of the regulators or the organizers to ensure a smoke-free program, we will explore every available option in the interest of public health.
“It is important to note that entertainment products set the agenda for many young people because they are the eyes through which they see the world.
“We call on the NBC to exercise its mandate to ensure that BBN does not flout any provision of the NTC Act and should any of the provisions be flouted, the Commission must enforce to full effect such penalties as listed in the law.
“We also call on the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria (BON) to caution its members from flouting tobacco CONtrol laws and ensure that they abide by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria including the NTC Act.
“We sound a note of caution to the organizers of BBN and a reminder of their responsibility towards the Nigerian Population – At this time when Nigerians are hungry for quality leadership, a program with such national reach must be used to portray high standing role models for the Nigerian people.
“At this critical time of our nationhood journey, we cannot afford to have entertainment for mere entertainment’s sake, and young and impressionable Nigerians must not be manipulated into thinking that smoking is good.
“The National Film and Video Sensors Board (NFVCB) must live up to its responsibility of ensuring that all videos made and consumed in Nigeria strictly abide by the provisions of the NTC Act as it applies to the regulation of on-screen smoking and must see to the inclusion of text warnings or outright removal of needless on-screen smoking depictions.
“The National Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) must monitor, and sanction violators of the TAPS ban in the digital space.”
Culled from the Guardian.