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Status and Challenges of Implementing Tobacco Control Policies in Korea: Focus on WHO MPOWER Measures
J Korean Soc Res Nicotine Tob 2023; 14(2): 21-32
Published online June 30, 2023
© 2023 The Korean Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco.

Jaehyung Kong1,2, Sujin Lim1, Saegyeul Choi1, Gil-yong Kim1*

1Korea Health Promotion Institute, Seoul, 2Graduate School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
Correspondence to: *源湲몄슜
Received June 13, 2023; Revised June 25, 2023; Accepted June 26, 2023.
This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, dis-tribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
To collectively address the problems caused by tobacco use in South Korea and other countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has implemented tobacco control policies under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The most crucial and cost-effective tobacco control policy is identified as MPOWER, named after its key components: Monitoring tobacco use and prevention policies (M); Protecting from tobacco smoke (P); Offering help to quit tobacco use (O); Warning about the dangers of tobacco (W); Enforcing ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (E); Raising taxes on tobacco (R). WHO evaluates and publishes the implementation status of MPOWER policies globally and in each country every two years. Since 2013, South Korea has consistently received a “complete” evaluations in terms of M, O, and W (specifically for anti-tobacco campaigns) over approximately 10 years. Additionally, the W-related policy has been rated as “moderate” due to the mandatory implementation of a graphic health warning. However, policies concerning P and E are rated as "weak." Furthermore, the R-related policy has remained unchanged for several years. Currently, tobacco prices in South Korea do not sufficiently discourage purchases, necessitating consideration of price increases. Moreover, the legislative framework for designating additional smoke-free zones and the regulations and criteria for the installation of smoking rooms should be discussed. Additionally, since South Korea has the world's weakest restrictions on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship, urgent institutional improvements are required to regulate tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship activities comprehensively. This should include prohibiting the display and advertisement of tobacco products in retail stores and forbidding the publication of tobacco advertisements in magazines.
Keywords : Tobacco; Tobacco control policy; Republic of Korea; WHO; MPOWER
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