Dr Ebrahim M. Samba, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, today condemned the implication of the film and fashion industry in the promotion of tobacco on the occasion of the commemoration of the 17th World No Tobacco Day which theme is "Tobacco free film. Tobacco free fashion".
"It has been observed that a large number of locally produced films, videos and television programmes are inadvertently or deliberately including scenes with stars indulging in smoking. This very much contributes to the social acceptance of use of cigarettes."
Dr Samba denounces fashion shows, films and major cultural events such as FESPACO (Ouagadougou Pan African Film Festival) sponsored by the tobacco industry which wishes people, especially young people, to associate their products with fashion, fun, health, success and appeal".
"The responsibilities of fashion stars and actors as role models and the influence they wield on young people should and must be harnessed in the protection of public health", Dr Samba says.
He calls upon the fashion and film industry in the Region to take a stand and stop promoting tobacco on and off camera.
He adds that tobacco consumption is a communicable disease that "relies heavily on techniques that result in behaviour modification and targets populations that are at a critical phase of their physical, emotional and psychological development."
Dr Samba quotes the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) which shows that between 51-89% of 13-15-year-olds surveyed had seen a pro-tobacco advertisement on a billboard in the last 30 days, between 48% and 82% had seen a tobacco advertisement in the newspapers or magazines, and 58-94% had seen pro-tobacco messages at sports and other events.
The same survey indicates that between 20% and 60% of boys and 12-40% of girls thought that those who smoke had more friends, and that 9-37% of boys and 9-35% of girls thought that young people who smoke were more attractive.
Around 5 million people worldwide die every year of tobacco related diseases. The majority of deaths occur in developing countries.
"Developing countries, especially those in Africa, are prime targets for the tobacco companies. Access to markets in the African region is made easier by globalization and the absence of or very weak tobacco control legislation", Dr Samba says.
For further information, please contact
Public Information and Communication Unit
Tel : (00-242) 839352 , 839378 , 839382
Dr Charles Maringo, Regional adviser: Substance Abuse Programme
Tel : (47-241) 38338
Dr Mohamed Belhocine, Director of the Division Non Communicable Diseases
Tel : (00-242) 839367