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The Economics of Tobacco Control Research Initiative (ETCRI) funded innovative fiscal policy research supporting tobacco control in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Aimed at preventing tobacco-related diseases and promoting public health, this was a five-year partnership between IDRC and the world’s leading independent cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research, Cancer Research UK.

The initiative

Through the ETCRI, IDRC and Cancer Research UK aimed to address the health and development challenges posed by tobacco use in LMICs.

By supporting collaborative research that provided the economic rationale for tobacco control in LMICs, the Initiative encouraged and helped disseminate the robust local evidence acutely needed to better inform and implement solutions for effective tobacco control.

The applied nature of the research supported by this Initiative helped inform and influence tobacco-control policy measures in LMICs, assisting them to make strides toward meeting the SDGs related to global health and economic empowerment.

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The challenge

Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability worldwide, causing more than 7 million deaths each year. More than 80% of deaths from non-communicable diseases occur in LMICs, with significant consequences for individuals, families and national economies.

Fiscal policies for tobacco control are widely recognized to be the most effective measures to curb tobacco consumption and prevent tobacco related diseases, while reducing household poverty and increasing national revenues. The projects funded by the ETCRI aimed to have such policies implemented in LMICs.

From knowledge to policy

Central to these projects was the notion that research, by itself, does little to effect change. While quality research is a critical component of the process, it represents one of the many steps lead to positive impact. 

In other words, quality research obtained from the funded projects must be shared, communicated, understood, and, ultimately, lead to policy changes with pro-health impacts.

An unprecedented coalition

The ETC projects aimed to produce strong data while building capacity within (and across) project teams on relationship building, thinking strategically, communicating effectively and engaging with policymakers.

This collaboration took form in three phases: a needs assessment and prioritization exercise, customized capacity development activities, and coaching and mentorship. Through workshops that supported both virtual coaching and peer learning, knowledge sharing between institutions was encouraged, and participants could engage and learn from their fellow peers working in evidence-informed tobacco control.

Promoting key learnings

Celebrating the culmination of over a decade of partnerships, research and advocacy, a webinar was planned in partnership with Cancer Research UK, “Demystifying the Economics of Tobacco Control: Knowledge, policy and everything in between,” and broadcast live on June 29, 2022.

This webinar represented an opportunity to demystify the process of knowledge translation, to share key learnings from our research teams across the globe and to discuss the emerging opportunities for continued and meaningful impact.

Remote video URL

ETCRI Funding

The Call for Concept Notes on the Economics of Tobacco Control in Low and Middle- Income Countries offered up to CAD1 million over a maximum of four years to support evidence-based research on the economic rationale for the adoption of tobacco-control policies across LMICs in four regions: Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.

By targeting collaborative, applied economics research, the Initiative aimed to support the implementation of effective fiscal and other policy measures to help prevent tobacco-related diseases and save lives.


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