Waterpipe tobacco smoking (WTS) control policies: global analysis of available legislation and equity considerations

Hala Alaouie, Sumithra Krishnamurthy Reddiar, Malak Tleis, Lama El Kadi, Rima A Afifi, Rima Nakkash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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INTRODUCTION: The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) offers guidance on evidence-based policies to reduce tobacco consumption and its burden of disease. Recently, it has provided guidance for alternative tobacco products, such as the waterpipe. Waterpipe tobacco smoking (WTS) is prevalent worldwide and policies to address it need to take into consideration its specificities as a mode of smoking. In parallel, a growing body of literature points to the potential of evidence-based tobacco control policies to increase health inequities. This paper updates a previous global review of waterpipe tobacco policies and adds an equity lens to assess their impact on health inequities. METHODS: We reviewed policies that address WTS in 90 countries, including 10 with state-owned tobacco companies; 47 were included in our final analysis. We relied primarily on the Tobacco-Free Kids organisation's Tobacco Control Laws website, providing access to tobacco control laws globally. We categorised country tobacco policies by the clarity with which they defined and addressed waterpipe tobacco in relation to nine FCTC articles. We used the PROGRESS (Place of residence, Race/ethnicity/culture/language, Occupation, Gender/sex, Religion, Education, Socioeconomic status and Social capital) framework for the equity analysis, by reviewing equity considerations referenced in the policies of each country and including prevalence data disaggregated by equity axis and country where available. RESULTS: Our results revealed very limited attention to waterpipe policies overall, and to equity in such policies, and highlight the complexity of regulating WTS. We recommend that WTS policies and surveillance centre equity as a goal. CONCLUSIONS: Our recommendations can inform global policies to reduce WTS and its health consequences equitably across population groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-197
Number of pages11
JournalTobacco Control
Issue number2
Early online date3 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022


  • addiction
  • global health
  • public policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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