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International collaborations to strengthen the research to impact process

June 16, 2023

Accelerating the impact of the Economics of Tobacco Control Research Initiative

Contextualization with global ETC initiative + Local orientation

Given the rise in tobacco use and its associated health, social and economic consequences worldwide as well as the challenges faced in developing and adopting effective tobacco control policies, evidence is needed to ensure the production, adoption and implementation of effective and informed policies to halt the epidemic.

IDRC's ambition, in addition to funding major research, was to amplify the impact of the research results. By providing support to three clusters of project teams, research capacity was increased through collaboration and peer learning as were positive impacts on both civil society and policy.


In countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Philippines, Nigeria and Vietnam, mentorship workshops were held to encourage the development of a research strategy, p olicy brief outline and knowledge uptake plan.

In countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, the research teams set up a peer-learning network to share lessons from their work on social impact, equity and the concrete benefits for the region when countries increase tobacco taxes. This network engaged with policymakers and researchers from 10 countries in tthe region, showcasing not only how to generate the necessary evidence but how to present and share the findings with a broad range of relevant stakeholders.

In countries that are part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), researchers worked directly to build the capacity of decision-makers who are charged with the development and implementation of regional directives on tobacco t axation and tobacco control. This direct engagement with policymakers supported the t ranslation of the evidence on the positive impact of high tobacco taxes into effective tobacco control policy.


Making research useful for everyone

The project aims to strengthen the relationship between researchers and policymakers while building sustainable relationships between stakeholders.

Various activities were undertaken to meet these objectives, notably several simulations to practice engaging with policymakers and presenting information in a way that encourages a  clear understanding of the role and benefits of taxation on tobacco.

Data collection consisted of a combination of interviews, focus groups, physical observations and literature reviews. In addition, a priority-setting exercise was conducted to identify tobacco  control policy priorities specific to each country/region. The prioritisation exercise was flexible and based on the clarity of priorities in the different regions. Thus, each country pursued its own context-specific tobacco control policy, which was developed and implemented as part of the mentoring program. Each has developed an individualised action plan to promote policy adoption and implementation. Other events that strengthened relationships between policymakers and researchers in both Latin America and West Africa were policy dialogues  between researchers and policymakers to share information and learning.

Each country created an individualized work plan that identified the knowledge translation product selected for development.

Knowledge translation, the process of communicating research results in a way which can lead to positive impacts (e.g., policy change), is an important component that ensures research does not remain on the shelf.

Knowledge translation products and processes have proven to be effective in engaging different stakeholder groups, including policymakers, in the co-production of rigorous and contextualized evidence-informed policies and in promoting their adoption. Yet, this requires an increased demand on evidence-informed policies and sustainable institutional capacities, incentives and systems in place to facilitate their production.

Activities included collecting theoretical and practical guidance on developing policy briefs through synthesizing the best-available evidence nationally, regionally and internationally on effective policy options and their implementation considerations.

The American University of Beirut (AUB) developed these country plans through its mentorship work, but in both Latin America (for Mexico, Argentina and Colombia) and to a limited extent in West Africa (led by the Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale [CRES] in Senegal), the research teams developed infographics and communication materials that they shared at policy dialogues and provided to the media and the general public.

Each participant conducted a policy dialogue in their home country, aiming to gather stakeholder input on the policy briefs and to encourage action.

The project provided new knowledge and skills to the participants from each country, enabling them to develop a policy brief outline based on learnings. Now, these participants are better equipped to influence tobacco control policies and encourage the adoption of evidence-informed measures on tobacco control. By that we mean:

  • Address areas where staff require further capacity development in both knowledge and s kills.
  • Address some of the attitudinal and procedural barriers limiting the implementation of recommendations and lessons learned from the pilot, including identification of areas to improve institutional processes and systems to facilitate the use of evidence.

These dialogues were a space for learning, for emphasizing the value of tobacco control research and for illustrating how good policy improves public health and equity. Such dialogue is  a necessary step in making research useful.

Team and partners list

AUB – Officially this team was led by Fadi El-Jardali, director of the Knowledge to Policy (K2P) Center. However, Rima Nakkash did most of the heavy lifting. Countries: Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan,  Palestine, Nigeria, Philippines and Vietnam.

CRES – Led by Pr. Abdoulaye Diagne, Executive Director – Senegal and work with ECOWAS.

IECS (Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy) – Led by Andreìs Pichoìn Riviere  (in partnership with LuzMyriam Reynales at INSP and Blanca Llorente at Fundacion  Anaas). Countries: Argentina, Mexico and Colombia with policy dialogues held in 10 countries  in Latin America.

Methodology and references

The mentorship program includes three main phases: needs assessment, customized capacity building activities, and coaching and mentorship. This program facilitates effective interaction, collaboration and knowledge exchange between different institutions working in evidence-informed tobacco control through continuous communication and the sharing of best practices.

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.

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.