MPOWER: Progress, yet much work remains

An analysis of tobacco control programs in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) shows overall improvement in the two years following implementation of MPOWER policy. However, the analysis shows some slippage in some countries and some areas, and concludes that implementation of programs is not ideal.

The study, “The Second Study on WHO MPOWER Tobacco Control Scores in Eastern Mediterranean Countries Based on the 2013 Report: Improvements over Two Years,” published in the Archives of Iranian Medicine (1), assessed changes in scores for tobacco control programs between 2011 and 2013, based on the six MPOWER measures and WHO reports.

The World Health Organization developed six measures to advance tobacco control in an effort to accomplish the objectives of the FCTC:

  • Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies
  • Protect people from tobacco smoke
  • Offer help to quit tobacco use
  • Warn about the dangers of tobacco
  • Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship
  • Raise taxes on tobacco

The analysis found tobacco control programs improved in Iran, Kuwait, Lebanon, Gaza, Oman and Saudi Arabia, but UAE and Sudan received lower scores in some areas. Fourteen countries improved their total scores; Lebanon had the largest increase, followed by Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia. The study authors note that all countries in the region need to build on their successes and continue to strengthen their weak points. The most improvement overall came from implementation of no smoking areas as well as banning advertising and increased health warnings.

More updates to tobacco control programs in EMR countries are likely to be presented at the 16th Annual World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) which takes place later this month in UAE.

(1) Heydari G, Ebn Ahmady A, Lando HA, Shadmehr MB, Fadaizadeh L. et al. The second study on WHO MPOWER tobacco control scores in the Eastern Mediterranean Countries based on the 2013 report: improvements during two years. Arch Iran Med. 2014; 17(9): 621 – 625.