Working for a Tobacco Free Universe: Highlights from MPOWER Research Group Subcommittee Meeting, Hyderabad, India

MPOWER Research group meeting, a subcommittee of the tobacco control section of The Union, was held on 30th of October 2019 parallel to the 50th Union World Lung Health Conference at Hyderabad, India. Apart from sharing activities undertaken by various regions, a white paper titled ‘Fuelling the Tuberculosis Epidemic: The Role of Tobacco Control on Ending TB Emergency’ was also released by Honorable Health Minister of Bihar, India Mr Mangal Pandey, Chairs and other dignitaries present during the meeting. Mr Pandey urged to work together in an integrated way and appreciated the efforts of India to eliminate tuberculosis by 2025. The paper highlighted about the role of tobacco control in reaching the ambitious goal of ending TB epidemic by 2030. This paper was jointly composed by Sonu Goel from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, India, Kamaran Siddiqi from University of York, UK, Rana J Singh and Pranay Lal from the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, Mira B Aghi and Prakash Gupta from the Healis – Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, India. During the meeting, emphasis was also laid on promoting evidence based research to further devise policies followed by practice with identification of research themes focusing on research needs for various countries.

The members of MPOWER research group comprehensively presented the activities/research work conducted in their respective regions/ countries followed by their action points for upcoming year. The regions included Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East, Europe, and North America. Varied aspects of MPOWER were discussed by the members.

Beginning with South East Asia Region,  the August audience was apprised of the projects being undertaken by PGIMER, India which focused on tackling Tobacco Industry Interference (TII) to various initiatives by Government of India such as passing ordinance against ENDS to mapping resources to strengthen ‘O’ component of MPOWER in India. It was reiterated that the ‘O’ component should not be limited to National Tobacco Control Programme but should be expanded to other programs too. An action plan for collaboration of South Asian countries to constitute a centre for combating and monitoring tobacco industry interference was also discussed.

It was also brought up during the meeting that there is a need to develop consensus regarding gaps on economic evidence to increase taxation on tobacco products. Further, the role of civil society organizations in educating people against tobacco use by integrating evidence-based messages in teachings of religion was also highlighted. The meeting also discussed that how tobacco industry is always a step ahead of tobacco control activists. Therefore, the need to escalate integration of aspects of TC and being more proactive was reiterated.  In this regard, Dr. Mahesh and Dr. Hiruni from University of Colombo presented an initiative namely SARC CCT which is a South Asian Regional Consortium Centre for Combating Tobacco (SARC-CCT). It is the South Asian tobacco observatory established at University of Colombo to monitor tobacco industry interference in the region. New initiatives such as vendor licensing, tobacco free generation, pack warnings, plain packaging, increasing the legal age to buy and sell tobacco products, ENDS, monitoring & compliance were also discussed. It was urged by the chairs to document the work done in form of publications, reports and make use of research work to build evidence and policy formulation.

It was suggested during the meeting that a formalized way of sharing activities and research work undertaken in respective countries should be established so that information can be presented comprehensively and shared with larger audience.


Dr. Sonu Goel, Dr. Garima Bhatt

Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh-India

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