Students Ask Nigerian Celebrities to Stop Glamorising Tobacco
A group of 85 students from different schools in Lagos education district one has asked Nigerian celebrities to stop glamorising tobacco usage, stressing that it remained a distraction to them.
They agreed that with the increased use of smartphones, other mobile devices, screen time has expanded to include mobile phone and tablet use, in addition to television.
However, while unanimously pledging not to smoke tobacco, about 85 of them from Lagos Education District One, Agege, called on various celebrities to stop glamorising tobacco in their video contents.
This, according to them was because teenagers and young persons consume hours of digital media in the form of videos and reels on several social media platforms.
Speaking at a sensitisation event on tobacco in Lagos, recently, the State Coordinator, Protecting and Activating Communities Against Tobacco (PACT) Lagos Hub, George Adjete, said because most smokers start before the age of 18, it was crucial to prevent youth initiation.
He noted that on-screen smoking was responsible for 44 percent of new adolescent smokers.
According to him, recently, the tobacco industry tried to advance youth tobacco use by peddling e-cigarettes (vapes) and shisha as harmless.
He added: “It is important they change the picture they are painting. We know smokers are liable to die young. We know about 28, 876 people die from tobacco-related illness in Nigeria every year.
“In Nigeria we know more than two million people are buying tobacco every day including children. In fact, this morning I still found out that some sellers still sell tobacco to those under aged. About 2500 children under 18 try their first cigarette every day and half die from tobacco related illness.
“The campaign is to let Nigerian celebrities stop smoking on TV to our teenagers, but that they should also come out and tell them the effects on their health and the amount they secretly spend on medical checks.
“They should stop this made-belief effects and camera effects they are projecting to the young ones who are mirroring their lives on them.”
He pointed out that the National Tobacco Act of 2015 and the National Tobacco Control Regulation of 2019 prohibit tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) in movies and entertainment, but acknowledge intentionally or unawares, some practitioners violate the law.
Speaking on behalf of the students, a member of the Lagos Children Parliament and the Head Girl, Sango Senior Secondary School, Agege, Ololade Oladele, said the peculiarities of youths make them vulnerable.
According to her, “with the pledge we have made today not to smoke, celebrities must understand the implication of their action on the followers, especially the youths.
“What I notice about us is that we want what is very attractive and so they do this just to attract our attention and gain more followers, but rather what we see we tend to practice because images stay longer in the brain. So we are calling on them to stop glamorising tobacco in their music videos and movies.”
Commending the students’ interest in pledging not to smoke, the Deputy Director, Lagos Education District One, Agege, Mr. Sijuade Rotimi, attributed their voices to success stories of several initiatives the State government allows to get them exposed and conquer peer pressure.