Tobacco control in Tunisia

31-GBDr. Mounira Masmoudi Nabli
31-flag Tunisia
15 Nov 2013

Mounira Masmoudi Nabli, M.D., is the coordinator of the Tunisian Tobacco Control Program and a regional consultant for the Global Bridges EMR.

What is your role with tobacco control efforts in Tunisia?

As the Tunisian tobacco control focal point, my role consists of managing the national program and all of its components. I organize regular meetings of the National Multisectoral Committee on Tobacco Control under the chairmanship of the Minister of Health, and I annually assess the national program for tobacco control in relation to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)  and MPOWER. Based on this assessment, I develop the Action Plan for the following year (ensuring that any deficiencies are corrected, based on input from a technical committee consisting of experts and partners).

In my role, I ensure the application of this multisectoral action plan by organizing training sessions for doctors, nurses and health psychologists. I also ensure adequate control of nicotine substitutes and the implementation of the communication strategy developed by a national consultant.

Every year I prepare the World No Tobacco Day program in collaboration with members of a technical committee and participate in the development of educational materials such as posters, flyers, banners, and radio and TV spots.

I also represent Tunisia in inter-country meetings for tobacco control at EMRO, and at the Conference to the Parties (COP) and the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) of the FCTC, and I report the results of these meetings to the National Committee. Additionally, I oversee consultations to aid smoking cessation at the primary health center.

I have been working in the tobacco control arena since 2000.

Tell us about your role in promoting tobacco dependence treatment through occupational health doctors in Tunisia (who have their own union/society?)

The occupational field is represented at the National Multisectoral Committee on Tobacco Control and I integrate doctors working in this field to the tobacco dependence treatment training sessions.

There are tobacco cessation clinics and awareness campaigns in many factories throughout Tunisia. Trained personnel run these clinics and conduct the campaigns as well as participate in World No Tobacco Day.

We understand that you noticed setbacks in tobacco control in Tunisia after the revolution and are working hard to bring things back on track. Please share your observations and tell us about your efforts to get things back on track.

I try to educate our partners as I am interested in continuing my efforts. Some of the things I have accomplished include:

  • Tried to push screeners at the public places where smoking is prohibited by strengthening the control and applying the sanctions as required;
  • In collaboration with those responsible for the medical school and the Ministry of Education, tried to strengthen the actions in children and young people at school with the implementation of the new strategy for the development of life skills;
  • Submitted a dossier to the Constitutional Council advocacy;
  • Created a partnership with airports;
  • In accordance with the National Committee, tried to strengthen consultations for smoking cessation that remained in place after the revolution rather than keeping them all as most were not functional;
  • Also tried with some success to better involve the schools, the workplace and the media.

You have been training front-liners (physicians) on tobacco dependence treatment, but we understand you are considering expanding the audience next year to include nurses and school health workers. Please tell us about this.

While the training of doctors on the front lines is very important, we must not forget the role played by nurses who often live close to the primary health centers and know almost everyone in their respective sectors. Nurses have great influence, and more often these nurses are members of local NGOs and can also influence local authorities on tobacco control and encourage participation of all stakeholders in the field.

The workplace is also essential to engage in tobacco control because on the one hand, this field has a large number of people, many of whom are smokers, while on the other hand they may be exposed to harmful and toxic chemicals.

Please add anything we have not asked about but you believe is important for the audience to know about. This can be about your work, your passion in this area, your hopes for the future, etc.

It’s a great pleasure to work in the tobacco control field, and despite the difficulties, I am optimistic we will be able to respond to different sections of the FCTC and the protocol of prevention of illegal trade in tobacco products.

Because of my position as vice president of the National Sports Association’s Sport for All and tobacco control, I am trying to schedule events related to tobacco control in the most remote areas of the country. My wish for 2014 is to have all health facilities – educational, community, and workplaces – smoke-free, and in 2015, see all cafes and restaurants become smoke-free.

Finally, I wish continue my efforts with Global Bridges and make alliances with Arab countries.

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