Sunday, December 9, 2012

Tobacoo: My Friend ,Our Media

As I settled down with a friend inside a dark corner at Big Brother Café opposite the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Ogba Lagos, South west Nigeria, what was going through my mind was the many workshops I have attended on tobacco at the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN). My friend is a chain smoker. If allowed he will smoke out his life… as he puffed into the air, I changed our topic ‘Ore’ (meaning friend in Yoruba our local dialect) why do you smoke? Daddy and Mum never smoked? Where do you learn how to stick your mouth? “The Media did this to me” how? I wanted to hear more but he wasn’t willing to talk about his smoking habit all he added was “Movies, I watched movies alot when I was young and the ‘best guy’ smokes so I …” my friend puffed away to another table, visibly not interested in my topic. The mass media have a major role to play in rebuilding our societal values, like my friend- who learnt smoking from the media obviously needs help from the same media. What we see has a great influence on our thinking and behaviours but what are we seeing through the media- corruption, prostitution, smoking like my friend many other bad habits. Yes! Children picked them from the media -that movie we watched, that advert we saw coupled with what our ‘broda adugbo’ area uncle did, formed our orientation, we all wants to belong, we want to be ‘happening’. Tobacco is killing a lot of Nigerians, The Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals (NATT) Africa spokesperson, Philip Jakpor, lamented that the activities of the tobacco industry was particularly noticeable in low and middle income countries like Nigeria which accounts for 80 percent of the annual six million tobacco-related deaths in the world. He said journalists have crucial roles to play in exposing the tobacco industry's efforts at undermining the implementation of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and public education on the dangers of smoking. But Nigeria Independent Tobacco Association  (NITA)  on its part says about 10,000 jobs will be at risk in Nigeria if the World Health Organisation (WHO) goes ahead with its proposal at the World Tobacco Growers’ Day. "There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry's interests and public health policy" Jakpor said. The Media majorly movie producers, Ad directors should wake up from their damaging slumber. Portraying people with bad habits as ‘great men’ should stop, our society is losing out its morals- young people believe so much in the media, their daily activities are built around these ‘media mentors’. We need to start building a sane society through sane media content.

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