The workshop, under the theme: “Engaging the Media in Effective Tobacco Control Advocacy”, was organised by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), a global tobacco-free organisation and supported by African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA) and Environmental Rights Action (ERA)/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (FOEN).
It was hosted by the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation in Ghana and attended by participants from seven West African countries namely Ghana, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, the Gambia, Burkina Faso, and Cote d’Ivoire.
Some of the topics the participants were taken through, included “Tobacco Control (TC) and the Media: A Global Perspective,” “Mainstreaming Tobacco Control in The Media,” “Building Synergy between Tobacco Industry Accountability Campaigns and Media Advocacy,” “Framing TC for Media Reports: A Sneak Peek into The Newsroom” and “Key Elements of Investigative Report – Tips on undercover Reporting”
The objective of the event was to build strong networks between the journalists and tobacco control advocates in Africa to help in the campaign against tobacco use.
Dr Akwasi Kyei-Faried, Deputy Director and the Focal Person for Tobacco Control - Ghana Health Service, urged journalists to stay ahead of the tobacco industry by writing to inform and educate the youth to be conscious of the harmful effects of tobacco use.
He said people should be told that there is nothing good in tobacco and what it does is to destroy, brings about poverty, ill-health and cost national economies huge sums of monies.
Dr Kyei-Faried, who spoke on the topic: “Tobacco versus Public Health: the Ghana Story”, said tobacco smoking and alcohol were risk factors which push people to have non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, chronic lung diseases, mental disorders and injuries.
He said: “If you are a journalist and for the whole year you have not written a story on tobacco with its harmful effect on the people and the economies of your countries then it is very unfortunate.”
Madam Hilda Ochefu, the West Africa Sub-Regional Coordinator of CTFK, urged journalists to learn investigative skills and always keep their ears and eyes on the ground to monitor the movement of the tobacco industry, which has adopted various strategies to lure young people into tobacco smoking.
The facilitators of the workshop are Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Executive Director ERA/FOEN; Mr Philip Jakpor, Head of Campaigns, ERA/FOEN; Mr Richard Baguma, Uganda Communication Health Alliance; Mr Dayo Aiyetan, Executive Director, International Centre for Investigative Reports; Ms Olufunmilayo Ajala, Digital Journalism Expert; and Mr Leonce Sessou, Communication Manager, ATCA.
The trainees were given certificate of participation.