Tobacco control policy is essential for addressing the growing tobacco consumption seen in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, the single greatest preventable contributor to the non-communicable disease epidemic. Egypt and Iran have had varied success in using policy to combat this issue. The study aims to identify and compare the factors which have influenced different stages of the policy process – evidence generation, development and implementation.
A scoping review was conducted with a systematic search of 7 databases which was conducted along with searches of Google Scholar, and the World Health Organisation and Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office websites to identify influencing factors at each stage of the policy process.
Twenty-seven relevant articles were identified from the literature search. Factors identified as influencing tobacco control policy in these countries were lobbying by the tobacco industry, the rise of water-pipe smoking, lack of political commitment and the lack of resources for policy implementation. Iran was found to be leading Egypt on all three areas of the policy process. Implementation was found to be the most pivotal part of the policy process and the area in which Egypt was weakest compared to Iran.
This study addresses a gap in knowledge concerning tobacco control in the Middle East and has identified multiple factors which are potentially slowing the process of enforcing policy to address tobacco consumption. Iran is the regional leader for tobacco control and it is important for Egypt to assess the transferability of its tactics and immediately start implementing measures to control tobacco use.