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Tobacco Control Capacity Programme

REEP Project Researchers: Prof Corne van Walbeek, Dr Chengetai Dare and Dr Hana Ross

Project Partners: The Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and University of Edinburgh

Purpose: Study the impact of tax and price policy on illicit cigarette trade in selected low and middle income countries.

REEP (formerly ETCP) was chosen by the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) to lead a 30-month project starting in November 2016 under the Tobacco Control Capacity Programme (TCCP) with funding made available by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund. The TCCP is a collaborative research project between the University of Edinburgh (as the lead university), a number of UK universities, five African and three Asian research institutions (see https://ukctas.net/overview.html). A crucial aspect of the programme is that it encourages a high degree of interaction between research fellows and their supervisors/mentors across the different countries. The overall aim of the programme is to develop research capacity of early researchers (typically at the postdoctoral level) in tobacco control, with three focus areas: tobacco taxation, illicit trade and industry interference (Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control).

Under the TCCP, REEP has conducted a number of studies on the effects of taxation on tobacco consumption and also estimated the size of illicit tobacco market, in South Africa. These studies provide empirical evidence on market responses to higher taxes. The studies establish that if tax increases do not substantially change the magnitude and the nature of illicit tobacco trade, such taxes are an effective tool to lower smoking prevalence by lowering demand through higher prices leading to a major improvement in public health.