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Tobacco tax reforms for health and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Tobacco is a significant contributor to the rising global burden of non-communicable diseases. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the implementation of which is a specific target (3.a) of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, recognizes that raising taxes is the most cost-effective tobacco control measure. However, this measure remains under-used worldwide.

This project primarily aims to use tobacco-tax simulation models to demonstrate the impact of increases in tobacco excise taxes on government revenue and tobacco consumption in three West African countries: Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. These countries, which have rising levels of tobacco use and sub-optimal tobacco taxation laws, are members of the regional trade bloc the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In December 2017, ECOWAS adopted a directive on raising tobacco taxes. However, the capacity of its member states to implement the new directive is limited specifically by lack of country-specific data on the potential health and socio-economic impact of raising tobacco taxes. This project is therefore timely and strategic as it aims to estimate this impact and to communicate the results to policymakers in order to promote effective implementation of the directive. The results will also help dispel misinformation that tends to exaggerate the impact of taxes on, for example, low-income tobacco users, tobacco-related jobs, and tobacco smuggling.

This project involves a strong research consortium led by the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale (CRES) in Senegal. CRES in particular has spent the past decade influencing tobacco control policy, including the new ECOWAS directive, through research in West Africa that has been significantly funded by IDRC.

This project is funded through the Economics of Tobacco Control Research Initiative, a co-funding partnership between IDRC and Cancer Research UK, launched in October 2017.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
42 months
IDRC Officer
Samuel Oji Oti
Total Funding
CA$ 663,230.00
Sierra Leone
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
Corne van Walbeek
University of Cape Town

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