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Tobacco Control Research to Prevent Cancer

Every six seconds, someone somewhere in the world dies because of tobacco use.

If trends continue, tobacco will kill more than 8 million people each year by 2030.

Yet every one of these deaths is preventable if we conduct research to define the scope of the problem, establish evidence-based methods for countering the tobacco epidemic, and apply the knowledge thus gained into policy.

For this reason, in 2006 the Society established the International Tobacco Control Research (ITCR) program to conduct original and policy-relevant research with a particular emphasis on the economic aspects of tobacco control. ITCR is uniquely capable of translating complex economic concepts into tools for policy change. We build research capacity in low- and middle-income countries in order to generate local-specific research evidence, and are proud of our extensive collaborations with the top investigators and research institutions in this highly-specialized field.

The ITCR program works closely with both internal and external partners. Collaboration with the ACS Global Health department includes a number of areas, but focuses primarily on research and capacity building in sub-Saharan Africa, and on publishing the Tobacco Atlas series.

As part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded African Tobacco Control Consortium, the ITCR program manages a supplement to expand research and capacity building on the economics of tobacco control in Sub-Saharan Africa. This effort, in collaboration with the University of Cape Town, supports training of graduate students and researchers, and organizes training workshops for advocates, researchers and government officials on technical issues involving tobacco taxation.

ITCR also supports the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. Dr. Hana Ross conducted two studies on tobacco taxation in Russia and Ukraine, and Dr. Evan Blecher generated evidence on global cigarette affordability in collaboration with the University of Cape Town in a report. Follow-up research on cigarette affordability was published in Tobacco Control.

Dr. Ross collaborates with the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance and Duke University on a multi-year project to increase research capacity in Southeast Asia and explore the interrelationships between political processes and economic variables that influence tobacco control policies. The project, supported by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 grant, focuses primarily on seven countries in that region: Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

In research projects sponsored by the NIH and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (with funds from the Bloomberg Initiative), Dr. Jeff Drope and a multinational team are examining the intersection of economic policymaking and tobacco control in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

ITCR is a partner of the Framework Convention Alliance supporting the development of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Illicit Trade Protocol and the FCTC guidelines for taxing tobacco products. ITCR researchers co-authored “Effectiveness of tax and price policies in tobacco control”, the IARC Handbook that is instrumental for developing guidelines for tobacco taxation.

Our research to date has shown that tobacco can be controlled, smoking rates can be reduced, and premature death from cancer can be avoided. Yet for this to happen, individuals, organizations and governments must become increasingly engaged in strategies to reduce the burden of tobacco use. ICTR hopes to provide the means and the scientific basis for this renewed engagement.

The Tobacco Atlas

The video, developed by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, highlights data from The Tobacco Atlas, 4th Edition, a joint publication of both organizations. The Atlas graphically details the scale of the tobacco epidemic, the progress that has been made in tobacco control, and the latest products and tactics being deployed by the highly profitable tobacco industry – such as the use of new media, trade litigation, and aggressive development of smokeless products. Learn more about this publication at TobaccoAtlas.org.