Group petitions Netflix, others to remove tobacco scenes from Nollywood

The Nigerian Cancer Society and the #SmokeFreeNollywood campaign have launched a public digital petition against Nollywood filmmakers to remove tobacco from Nigeria’s film industry. 

The groups’ petition, which was issued on Friday, February 4, was in commemoration of World Cancer Day. 
In a statement jointly issued by the President, Nigerian Cancer Society, Dr. Adamu Alhassan Umar and Creative Director, #SmokeFreeNollywood, Ms. Esther Aghotor, stated that tobacco use is responsible for the deaths of over 70,000 Nigerians, where movies influenced more than one-third of them to start the habit. 

“Many Nollywood films today contain smoking scenes that glamourise the use of tobacco products such as cigarettes, and Shisha and unconsciously recruit viewers into damaging habits that harm their health. 

“Tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer. And cancer isresponsible for the deaths of 70,000 Nigerians every year. About a third of smokers started this habit through the influence of movies. After all, if their favourite characters are comfortable using tobacco on screen, it feels safe and trendy. But it is not. 

“Tobacco kills up to half of its users and leaves others with alifetime of health complications. Tobacco is responsible for lung, mouth, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, oesophagus, larynx, colon, rectum, and cervix cancers. There is no safe or relaxed level of tobacco use. 
“As the Nigerian Cancer Society President, I call on Nollywoodfilmmakers, particularly streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, and distributors such as FilmOne, Genesis, and Ebony Life, to remove tobacco use from movies. 

“This call is in line with the Nigerian Tobacco Control Act that prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Films depicting historical tobacco users as characters must contain strong anti-smoking narratives and health warnings. Many filmmakers globally are already toeing this path in the interest of public health. 

“As responsible corporate citizens, we are responsible for protecting our audience, particularly the young ones. A smoke-free Nollywood can help save lives and defeat cancer,” part of the statement read.

The President of the Nigerian Cancer Society, however, called on the public to join him in signing the petition via the website