The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance has urged the National Broadcasting Commission to prohibit smoking in the upcoming Big Brother Naija Season 7.
The group said tobacco advertising had persisted in Nigerian movies and digital spaces, despite the ban placed by the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015.
In a press statement signed by its Programme Officer, Chubuike Nwokorie and made available to The Punch on Wednesday, the group also urged the Federal Government and all stakeholders to intensify enforcement of the ban on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship in the country.
The statement partly read, “One of the most notorious violators of the TAPS ban is Smoke Box NG, a tobacco vendor that advertises tobacco products on social media with impunity.
“In 2021, Big Brother Naija, a popular reality TV show, hosted on the GOTV and DSTV platforms, sparked public outrage when its participants flagrantly smoked on live TV.
“This depiction of smoking as glamorous challenged the provisions of the NTC Act, 2015 on on-screen smoking. It also threatened the gains made on the ban on TAPS in Nigeria. When it happened, the tobacco control community called on the National Broadcasting Commission to act immediately.
“This year, as the programme is about to begin its 7th season, we are drawing the attention of NBC to proactively engage the organisers of the show to ensure that there is no repeat of last year’s violations.
“We wish to make it clear that should there be reluctance on the part of the regulators or the organisers to ensure a smoke-free programme, 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 sound a note of caution to the organisers of BBN and a reminder of their responsibility towards the Nigerian population.
“At this time when Nigerians are hungry for quality leadership, a programme with such national reach must be used to portray high-standing role models for the Nigerian people.
“The National Film and Video Censors Board 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 and the National Information Technology Development Agency must monitor, and sanction violators of the TAPS ban in the digital space.
“Finally, we charge all 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.”