Post B: mPOWER, the Tobacco Control package for countries of all shapes and sizes.

With approximately 1 in 10 adults being killed by smoking worldwide and projections that this could become one in six by 2030, the tobacco epidemic is a global issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later (The World Bank 1999).

As of May 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported the following key facts:

  • Half of the world’s tobacco users die due to tobacco
  • Each year 6 million deaths are caused by direct tobacco use alongside 890 000 other deaths of non-smokers caused by second-hand smoke.
  • Approximately 80% of the global smoker population reside in low to middle-income countries.

(World Health Organisation 2017)

These statistics strongly reinforce the need for initiatives that advocate for greater tobacco control on a global scale. This constitutes (but is not limited to) influencing the behaviour of current and potential users, placing limitations on the tobacco industry and reducing the harmful effects of tobacco products (West 2006).

Introducing MPOWER

MPOWER is an example of a worldwide initiative that has adopted a bottom-up design approach to reduce the demand for tobacco products in each country through implementing six practical, affordable and achievable measures (World Health Organisation 2017). These measures can be altered to suit each country’s needs and has shown promising results since being introduced by WHO in 2008.

So, what are the six magical solutions?

‘MPOWER’ is an analogy for the six following objectives:

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 11.42.50 pm.png

(WHO 2013)

By using these measures in conjunction with one another, all countries can monitor data relating to tobacco and act accordingly, create smoke-free environments, provide health-care systems for support and treatment, educate people about the risks of tobacco, stop tobacco industry giants from further promoting and advertising their deadly products and finally raise taxes to reduce consumption.

With the support of organisations such as Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, both of which also advocate for Tobacco Control, this transdisciplinary program has successfully achieved the following results:

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 11.38.22 pm.png

(WHO 2013)

But what is success without proof?

To put their success into perspective, the success of MPOWER in Turkey is a testament to the program’s unique ability to mould itself to suit a country’s specific needs. As of 2007, Turkey had Europe’s highest rate of smokers with 1 in 3 adults using tobacco. With the help of Turkey’s government, civil society, WHO and other global organisations, the country was the first to achieve the six MPOWER measures at the highest level. By 2012, there was a decline of 13.4% in smokers alongside a decline of second-hand smoke. It then made history by becoming the third European country ban smoking indoors. Turkey’s MPOWER success story strongly emphasises that it is highly possible to live in a world that is tobacco-free.

However, with every success story comes challenges…

Although MPOWER has shown positive results, this program also highlights the issues that arise from implementing tobacco control. Inevitably, there is a conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health systems of which WHO requires Party governments to consider when adopting the six measures. This is a challenge that will continue to remain and can only be controlled effectively at a country-level. In acknowledging this, WHO can continue to confidently launch MPOWER despite the issues they may face along the way.

Where to from here?

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While some may say that counteracting tobacco in the 21st century may be ‘too little, too late’ (West 2006), we can assume through analysing the WHO’s 2013 MPOWER report that this is not the case. Such initiatives like MPOWER will continue to succeed in battling the global tobacco epidemic and in conjunction with organisations who are actively participating in this movement, an issue that is a worldwide killer is given a powerful voice.


The World Bank 1999, ‘Curbing the epidemic: governments and the economics of tobacco control’, Tobacco Control, vol. 8, pp. 196-201.

West, R. 2006, ‘Tobacco control: present and future’, British Medical Bulletin, vol. 77-78, no. 1, pp 123-136.

World Health Organization 2017, Key facts and findings relating to the MPOWER package, WHO, Geneva, viewed 9 December 2017, <>

World Health Organization 2017, Tobaccao, WHO, Geneva, viewed 9 December 2017, <>

World Health Organization 2017, MPOWER IN ACTION: Defeating the global tobacco epidemic, WHO, Geneva, viewed 9 December 2017, <>

2 thoughts on “Post B: mPOWER, the Tobacco Control package for countries of all shapes and sizes.

  1. MPOWER is such a great organisation to help tobacco control because it can be adapted to different countries all over the world and has multiple objectives. I think this will allow MPOWER to create more success stories all over the world, not just Turkey. I can’t wait to see them tackle the huge tobacco issue in Indonesia next!

  2. Great to see a success story from the empowerment side of the tobacco battle. I’ve seen many successful fear campaigns, but it’s refreshing to see that empowerment still has a place in the world today. It seems, above all, that knowing your audience is the key to a successful campaign

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