Mauritius has become the first African country to fully implement the entire World Health Organization’s (WHO) package of tobacco control measures aimed at reducing tobacco use and reducing related deaths.
The WHO tobacco control package, called MPOWER Package, is a set of six measures to help countries monitor tobacco use and the effectiveness of preventive measures; establish measures to protect people from tobacco smoke and help them quit; ensure warning about the dangers of tobacco; enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and raise taxes on tobacco. The measures are aimed at assisting countries to curb the demand for tobacco.
Mauritius’ achievement was recognized today at an event where the Ninth WHO Report on the Global Tobacco Epidemic was launched. The island nation has recorded a 25% decline in the prevalence of smoking among adults between 1992 and 2021, according to a national survey.
“With a strong political commitment, we have made great progress in tobacco control policies in Mauritius. Our country has adopted the MPOWER strategy and is moving resolutely towards a smoke-free country,” said Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister, Republic of Mauritius.
Mauritius, which joins Brazil, Turkey and most recently the Netherlands in this achievement, has been a pioneer in tobacco control legislation. It was among the first countries globally to ratify the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2004, as well as one of the first to impose pictorial and text warnings on tobacco packaging in 2008. In May 2023, Mauritius became the first African country to introduce plain tobacco packaging.
“I applaud this truly remarkable progress by Mauritius to protect lives from the dangerous effects of tobacco,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The tobacco epidemic is a significant contributor to the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases in Africa and I urge other countries in the region to fully implement the WHO MPOWER measures to curb the health impacts of tobacco.”
In fully implementing the MPOWER package, Mauritius has passed key legislations. Among them is the Public Health (Restrictions on Tobacco Products) Regulations 2022, which cracks down on tobacco industry’s interference as well as on emerging tobacco and other nicotine products. The law also bans the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes.
The African region is expected to be home to more than 50 million smokers by 2025 unless more is done urgently to halt the tobacco epidemic. About 12 million others are estimated to be using smokeless tobacco products such as chewing tobacco or snuff, according to the WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco use 2000–2025 (https://apo-opa.info/3DBHo2w)
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.