It is a not a new thing in movies for someone, in a very posh home, surrounding by all the paraphernalia of luxury, to place a stick of cigarette around between his fingers and puff away, especially when he/she is under tension or just to show off. It happens so many times that subliminally, smoking begins to look like the habit of the wealthy and the sophisticated culture. Very soon, these portrayal might be no more.
On Mar 15 this year, the Senate approved the National Tobacco Control Bill. The Bill, among other things, will regulate the activities of the tobacco companies as well as protects the citizens especially minors. The constituent of the Bill includes banning smoking in public places and similarly designated places. It also includes non-glamorisation of smoking in movies and music videos while every park will carry the surgeon general’s warning. In places where people are not supposed to smoke, the warning will come in English and indigenous languages.
No longer will minors be able to buy cigarettes or smoke it in movies as the Bill prescribes ages will be a requirement for purchase. The Bill also says that cigarettes can only be bought in packs and no longer singly. Also, no more shall cigarettes ever be advertised or will it sponsor any show or event.
The National Coordinator of Coalition Against Tobacco, Ms. Toyosi Onaolapo, says after 25 months of actively engaging the legislature to force the tobacco industry to demonstrate a similar level of responsibility as exhibited in their home countries, they are glad that they have results to show for it. She says there is still more to be done as there should be compliance with the provision of the Bill. The essence, she said, is to protect public health and safety.
The legal Counsel for CAT, Mr. Babtunde Irukera, said the battle against Tobacco was not an easy one because the industry has an incredible amount of resources to fight them to a standstill. He said they didn’t backtrack as the evidence they used against the Tobacco industry came from within the industry itself.
“In movies, they are portrayed as rich and affluent and when you are under pressure, tobacco is a good way to cool off. In reality, it is not true. Tobacco is about the only product in the world designed to kill and one out of two smokers die as a direct consequence. The other half is killed by indirect consequences.”
Irukera said 62 per cent cases of erectile dysfunction, impotence and loss of vitality is a consequence of smoking. He said for women, it was equally bad as their reproductive health was at risk as a result of smoking. He said even though tobacco companies argue about their relevance to the society, they do not provide more than 945 jobs throughout the industry and over all, are on a softer moral ground and they could puncture their strength.