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The Economics of Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking in the Eastern Mediterranean

Tobacco remains a leading cause of death and ill-health globally, including in low and middle-income countries. Extensive empirical research confirms that higher excise taxes reduce tobacco use and discourage non-smokers from initiating smoking. However, this mechanism is still under-used in many countries.

This project will specifically address the knowledge gap on the economics of waterpipe tobacco smoking in the eastern Mediterranean region. A four-institution collaboration across Lebanon, the West Bank, Egypt, and Jordan will generate critically needed information on the increasing popularity and rate of waterpipe smoking and model the economic impact of fiscal policies on tobacco control. It is led by the American University of Beirut, which also hosts the Global Knowledge Hub for waterpipe tobacco smoking. The project team will present this economic evidence in a format that can be used by policymakers to strengthen the coherence and coverage of tobacco control policies in the region with the aim of improving population health and contributing to public revenues.

This project is funded through the Economics of Tobacco Control Research Initiative, an IDRC and Cancer Research UK co-funding partnership launched in October 2017. The objective is to generate evidence that provides the economic rationale for the prevention of tobacco-related diseases. The research uptake by policy actors will allow for the adoption of tobacco-control policies across low and middle-income countries.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
46 months
IDRC Officer
Natacha Lecours
Total Funding
CA$ 947,340.00
West Bank and Gaza
Institution Country
Project Leader
Dr. Rima Nakkash
American University of Beirut

Projects by Component Institution