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About the Economic & Health Policy Research Program

Analyzing the economics and politics of cancer risk factors


Our Mission

The Economic and Health Policy Research (EHPR) program seeks to address cancer worldwide by conducting research on the economic and policy aspects of risk factors to cancer, including in the areas of tobacco, nutrition, physical activity and harmful alcohol use. We also examine issues around the economics of health equity, including access to care. Within these broader goals, we aim to:

  • Provide insights into how market forces and governmental policies affect unhealthy behaviors and consequent health outcomes.
  • Increase capacity of colleagues in low- and middle-income countries in relevant data collection and analysis.
  • Promote collaboration and coordination among researchers, advocacy organizations, policy makers and funders engaged in similar research programs and policy initiatives.


Our Work

Our program’s historical focus has been on tobacco control, but in recent years, we have made significant efforts to expand to nutrition, physical activity and harmful alcohol use. Our team of economic and policy analysts, headed by Jeffrey Drope, Ph.D., examines and reports on the most pressing modifiable cancer risk factors globally: tobacco use, nutrition, physical activity and harmful alcohol use.

Tobacco control remains one of the core components of the EHPR’s broader scientific inquiry. In particular, our investigators have generated cutting-edge research on tobacco prices, taxes, affordability, and illicit trade, and the consequences of international trade and investment policies on tobacco control policies. Read more about our work in tobacco control.

Nutrition has emerged as major global cancer challenge. Analyzing the economics of nutrition is a particular area of focus for the EHPR. For example, economist Binh Nguyen, Ph.D., is leading research into the relationship between participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and dietary quality. Recent findings reveal that SNAP participants consume a lower quality diet than income-eligible non-participants, which emphasizes the need to support interventions encouraging a healthful diet among SNAP participants. She is also leading the program’s new work that examines the nexus of nutrition and access to care within the Affordable Care Act.

Physical activity – and inactivity – and its impact on cancer is a rapidly evolving area of research. Kerem Shuval, Ph.D., leads the program’s physical activity research, recently collaborating with the Cooper Center, to produce the first-ever analysis to look at the role of fitness in the relationship between sedentary time and increased obesity and metabolic risk. Notably, the inclusion of fitness in these models appears to mitigate most of the previously observed negative effects of prolonged sedentary time, suggesting that fitness should continue to be emphasized to reduce morbidity and mortality risk.

Harmful alcohol use is one of the most common, preventable risk factors to non-communicable diseases, including some cancers. Our program, led by Evan Blecher, Ph.D., has been applying many of the tools that we have used to examine tobacco use to the study of alcohol use, including particularly the concept of affordability.

Our Team and Recent Publications

ACS research team

Meet Our Researchers

Browse a list of our team members and learn more about them.

Tobacco Atlas Fifth Edition logo

The Tobacco Atlas

The most comprehensive, informative, and accessible resource on the pressing issues in the evolving tobacco epidemic. The fifth edition of the book and companion website, produced by the American Cancer Society and the World Lung Foundation and released March 2015, detail tobacco’s role in non-communicable diseases, gender inequality, environmental devastation, and the rapidly growing use of e-cigarettes and water pipes.

The Political Economy of Tobacco Control in Brazil cover

The Political Economy of Tobacco Control in Brazil

Together with colleagues from Brazil’s National Public Health School, University of California-San Francisco and McGill University, we examine how Brazil has developed some of the most effective tobacco control policies in the world, and highlight some of the most pressing challenges they continue to face to implement public health policies. A Portuguese language version of this report is available upon request.

The Political Economy of Tobacco Control in the Philippines cover

The Political Economy of Tobacco Control in the Philippines

With our colleagues at Action for Economic Reforms and McGill University, we explore the challenges that the Philippines has faced to develop their tobacco control policies, with a particular emphasis on their recent landmark tobacco excise tax reform, which has become an example for countries around the world.

Cover of The Economics of Alcohol Use, Misuse and Policy in South Africa

The Economics of Alcohol Use and Misuse in South Africa

An in-depth report on alcohol use in South Africa, home to one of the world’s highest burdens of alcohol-related harm, including cancer. Commissioned by the World Health Organization and produced in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, this report covers trends in alcohol use, taxes, prices and illicit trade, including an international analysis of trends in the affordability of alcohol products. Please contact evan.blecher AT cancer.org to request a copy of this report.