The tobacco industry has and continues to target young people using diverse persuasive tactics, one of which is use of the entertainment industry to market and promote its products. Given the fact that the music and film industry has got a huge influence on the lifestyles of people in the 21st Century, the tobacco industry has deeply penetrated this sphere to push its agenda because it rapidly reaches a wider target audience within a short time.
Amidst global and national policies calling for the control and/or ban of tobacco use, it is common to witness artistes using tobacco products for personal use and as props where many young people look at these celebrities as role models worth emulating in real life. The common products including shisha, cigarettes and cigars are often used to portray power, rebellion and wealth.
The President of Uganda Musicians Association (UMA) who is an active anti-tobacco ambassador Mrs. Gombya Sophie during an online tobacco control youth webinar cautioned the young people against being lured into tobacco use by the attractive costly lifestyles of celebrities. “The tobacco industry is not interested in the artists but rather the young people it is marketing to” she said. As a tobacco control champion, she further noted that glamorization of tobacco products to look desirable and attractive doesn’t stop it from being addictive and harmful to the health of its consumer as the industry would like to make people think.
The online youth webinar was organized by Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA) on Thursday 25th June 2020 to equip young people with knowledge on countering the tobacco industry manipulations using the entertainment industry. The participants were encouraged to actively counter these tactics by; advocating for their musicians not to use tobacco related products as props in videos/movies, sensitizing others about the dangers of tobacco use and being extra vigilant in protecting themselves from the influence of the tobacco industry through the entertainment sector.
The World Health Organization attributes six million annual deaths globally due to tobacco use and over 600,000 dying from second hand smoke. The world health body cautions that if this is not controlled, the annual death toll from tobacco use is expected to rise to over 8 million by 2030 with more than 80 percent deaths projected to occur in low- and middle-income Countries.
Author: Destiny Gladys Chaiga