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Former Graduate Students

Catherine Namome (PhD candidate)

Tobacco growing in Uganda

Catherine is a Ugandan student with a first degree in forestry from Makarere University and a Masters degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Pretoria. In her thesis, Catherine aims to understand why some farmers in the West Nile province in Uganda choose to grow tobacco and why other farmers choose to not grow tobacco. During 2014, Catherine conducted fieldwork in the West Nile province and completed interviews with 132 farmers, consisting of both tobacco and non-tobacco farmers. Amongst other things, she will use logit analysis to identify why some farmers grow tobacco and others not. The study is supervised by a committee consisting of an agricultural economist (Prof Beatrice Conradie), an environmental economist (Prof Tony Leiman) and a tobacco control specialist (Prof Corne van Walbeek).

Clarina du Preez (Masters)

What has happened to South Africa’s tobacco farmers?

The number of South African tobacco growers has decreased from about 1000 twenty years ago to less than 200 currently. The study wants to investigate why this is the case. This is a real-world example where the tobacco growing industry has decreased in size at a very rapid rate. Many countries (and industry organisations) are concerned about their tobacco farmers and what the decrease in demand in tobacco would imply. The study will inform the drafters of the guidelines of Articles 17 and 18 of the FCTC about what has really happened in one country when large numbers of farmers moved away from growing tobacco.

Max Fitchet (Masters)

British American Tobacco’s strong financial performance

Having completed an undergraduate degree in Finance & Economics at UCT while studying toward the CFA charter, Max joined the ETCP at the beginning of 2015. His thesis aims to identify the driving force behind British American Tobacco’s strong financial performance. The paper will investigate whether pricing changes or increased sales volume have been the most influential in BTIs stock return. This study will focus on the African continent, but may extend to the South American region.

Sam Filby (Masters)

Implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Sam Filby is currently a second year Economics Masters student at UCT. Her thesis seeks to examine the ‘implementation gap’ between global developments in tobacco control under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and national tobacco control policies in South Africa and Kenya. This involves conducting interviews with key role players in government and civil society in order to gain insight into what variables influence the implementation of the FCTC in these countries. It is hoped that this will enable an exploration into how barriers to effective implementation can be overcome – and opportunities utilized – in order to ensure an effective FCTC implementation in South Africa.

Rose Tuyeni Peter (Masters 2016)

The evaluation of tobacco levies in Botswana

Rose completed her undergraduate and Honours in economics at UCT and is currently studying towards a Masters in Applied Economics. Her research topic has yet to be finalised, but at the moment it may involve the evaluation of tobacco levies in Botswana. She currently works as a Researcher at The Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion.

Grieve Chelwa (PhD 2015)

The Economics of Tobacco in Zambia (Click here to access this former graduate student's thesis)

Grieve started his PhD studies at UCT in March 2012 and graduated in December 2015. His thesis consists of three chapters. The first was a study of the impact that tobacco consumption has on households’ expenditure on other goods and services. The second chapter considers the estimation of price and income elasticities of tobacco, based on a large cross-sectional data-set from Uganda. The third chapter uses a “synthetic control” method to evaluate South Africa’s tobacco control efforts since 1994. The method creates a credible counter-factual of what would have happened to tobacco consumption in South Africa, had it not been for the tax increases and the other legislative interventions. Grieve finds that the tax interventions have reduced consumption by more than a third in South Africa, relative to the control countries. Grieve is currently reading for a Postdoc in Economics at Harvard University.

Louis Moussi (Honours graduate 2015)

Louis completed his BCom (Economics and Statistics) at UCT in 2014, and completed his Honours in 2015. In his long paper, he considered determinants of tobacco use among Cameroonian men using the DHS. His results were in line with an established literature that found that poor people tend to have a higher prevalence of smoking. Louis is currently enrolled at UCT doing his Masters in Economics. Louis is now a Master's student at the University of Cape Town.

Linda Nyabongo (Masters 2014)

The socio-economic determinants of tobacco use (Click here to access this former student's thesis)

Linda’s thesis focused on the socio economic determinants of tobacco use in the Southern African Customs Union countries, using the Demographic and Health Surveys for the smaller countries and the National Income Dynamic Study for South Africa. She submitted her thesis in February 2014 and graduated in June 2014. She followed a standard approach (e.g. that of Pampel, 2008) and concluded that the type of tobacco used in the different countries differed significantly. There are also major gender differences. Linda is employed as a Financial Assessor Team Leader at Intelligent Debt Management.

Lara Kruger (Masters 2014)

The prevalence of water-pipe smoking among tertiary students in the Western Cape (Click here to access this former student's thesis)

In her thesis, Lara investigated the prevalence and determinants of water pipe smoking amongst students in the Western Cape province of South Africa (i.e. UCT, Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape, and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology). In the study she surveyed 4578 from about 107 000 registered students in the Western Cape. She found that 63% of Western Cape university students ever smoked waterpipe, 9.9% of students smoked waterpipe in the past 30 days and 17.7% of students smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days. She found that waterpipe smoking has a strong socialization aspect, and that 25% of users reported health problems related to smoking tobacco. Her thesis was submitted and accepted for publication in the American Journal of Health Behavior. Today, Lara is a Mathematics teacher at Westerford High School (Cape Town).

Diana Nyabongo (Masters 2014)

The effective level of protection of South African cigarettes manufacturers (Click here to access this former student's thesis)

In her thesis, Diana considered the cigarette market in South Africa and the impact that the trade tariffs have had on the ability of the industry to raise the net-of-tax price of cigarettes. The paper has a strong theoretical section and an empirical section. The results were largely inconclusive, i.e. it is not clear to what extent the tariff structure contributed to the industry’s strategy of raising the net-of-tax price since the early 1990s. The study was co-supervised by a UCT professor who specialises in international trade, Lawrence Edwards. Diana is an Associate, Business Intelligence, at S-RM - Business Intelligence, Risk Consulting & Private Client Services.

Nicole Vellios (Masters graduate 2013)

The Determinants of Smoking initiation in South Africa

The first wave of the National Income and Dynamics Study was used to identify the determinants of smoking initiation using survival analysis. Socio-economic factors and personal factors (e.g. having lost a parent by age 15) have some effect on some groups, but not on others. The price of cigarettes in the year in which the person started to smoke has a significant negative impact on the decision to initiate smoking amongst males, but not amongst females.

Jodie Posen (Masters graduate 2013)

The impact of excise tax harmonization in the East African community

Jodie completed her Masters thesis in February 2013. Her thesis considered the likely impact of tax simplification and harmonisation in the five countries comprising the East African Community (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda). She came to the conclusion that tax simplification and harmonisation would result in substantial fiscal benefits and cigarette consumption reductions in these countries, but that the benefits would not be equal. Countries with current lower excise taxes would benefit more, while countries with current higher excise taxes would benefit somewhat less. The study could have significant policy impact since these countries have been considering tax harmonisation through the EAC Secretariat. Jodie is working as a Trade and Investment Economist at Wesgro.

Jamie Tam (Visiting PhD Student 2011)

Tobacco legislation in Namibia

Jamie received her MPH at the University of Michigan where she is currently a doctoral student in health policy. She conducts research on tobacco politics in Southern Africa (with special attention to the case of Namibia) under the mentorship of Corné van Walbeek. She also investigates a wide range of tobacco control policy issues as a Research Assistant to Professor Kenneth Warner at the University of Michigan. Jamie has previously served in the Office of Policy at the Center for Tobacco Products (United States Food and Drug Administration) and as an International Research Intern at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Jamie is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan.

Tascha Terblanche (Honours graduate 2011)

The opportunity cost of tobacco use

Tascha completed her Honours degree at UCT in 2011. Her Honours thesis considers the opportunity cost of tobacco, in line with some of the analyses that have been done by Rijo John and others in other countries. Her research finds that smoking households spend relatively more on food, alcohol and entertainment, but less on education, and to a lesser extent, on medical expenditures. The results correspond to some strands of the “discounting literature” which suggests that smokers have a higher discount rate than non-smokers and thus are more interested in the here and now, while non-smokers place a higher premium on the future. Tasha is employed as an Investment Analyst at Coronation Fund Managers.