Dates: 2011-2014

Funding: American Cancer Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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The aim of this project is to expand current research efforts in the economics of tobacco control in the region of Sub-Saharan Africa.  A key component of the funding is to enable the University of Cape Town to scale-up its efforts to develop academic activities and promote research on economic and tax issues through student internships, research grants and training workshops in key ATCC (African Tobacco Control Consortium) countries.

These expanded efforts will increase the quantity and quality of research on the economics of tobacco control in the region, facilitate the growth of a new generation of tobacco control economics researchers and contribute to the creation of a centre of research excellence in sub-Saharan Africa.  The project also aims to enhance the knowledge of economic and tax issues among tobacco control advocates and policymakers to strengthen support for tobacco tax and price increases in key ATCC countries.



This project aims to increase research capacity in the arena of tobacco control through two channels:

  1. By attracting postgraduate students to do their thesis research on TC-related topics
  2. By providing tax and research training workshops for NGO officials, advocates and government employees on the economics of tobacco control, with the ultimate aim of changing policy in their countries. Specifically, an annual tax training workshop will be hosted by UCT in coordination with ACS and ATCC partners, and two annual workshops will train a younger generation of researchers from sub-Saharan Africa in tobacco control economics and tax issues.


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Journal articles 

Are the tobacco industry’s claims about illicit trade credible? The case of South Africa

       Corné van Walbeek and Lerato Shai

College student smoking in South Africa: Smoking patterns, attitudes, and perceived consequences of tobacco policies

Shana Narula, Carla Berg, Cam Escoffery and Evan Blecher

Government capacity, a regional trade agreement, and tobacco control in Africa: The Namibian experience

Jamie Tam and Corné van Walbeek

Market structure, socioeconomics, and tobacco usage in Madagascar

Evan Blecher, Alex Liber, Stacey Fedewa and Martine Chaussard

Measuring changes in the illicit cigarette market using government revenue data: the example of South Africa

Corné van Walbeek

Price and Tax Measures and Illicit Trade in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control: What We Know and What Research Is Required

Corné Van Walbeek, Evan Blecher, Anna Gilmore and Hana Ross


Working papers

Are the tobacco industry’s claims about illicit trade credible? - The case of South Africa

        Corné van Walbeek and Lerato Shai

Determinants of Smoking Initiation in South Africa

       Nicole Vellios and Corné van Walbeek



Some comments on the COMESA/SADC/SACU Value Chain Study commissioned by the Tobacco Institute of Southern Africa (TISA)

       Grieve Chelwa

 Subsequent report on the recent change in the excise tax regime for cigarettes in Senegal

        Corné van Walbeek

The impact of a change in the cigarette excise tax on cigarette consumption and excise tax revenues in Senegal

       Corné van Walbeek

The impact of cigarette excise tax increases and harmonisation in the East African community

       Jodie Posen and Corné van Walbeek

Emerging Researcher Programme

The University of Cape Town in partnership with the American Cancer Society hosts an annual Emerging Researcher Programme. The first workshop was held in July 2012, and the topic was the economics of tobacco control. The second workshop was held in October 2013 and focused on tobacco and poverty. For information on upcoming programmes, please contact Nicole Vellios.

The aim of the workshops is to train a younger generation of researchers from SSA in economics of tobacco control. A strong focus is to make delegates aware of the many datasets that are available for research. The training is aimed at emerging researchers from a variety of academic disciplines, including economics, epidemiology and sociology. While a deep knowledge of economics is not required, delegates are expected to have some exposure to economics and quantitative techniques. Young faculty and senior students (preferable PhD, but also Masters students) are the target audience for the workshops.

Researchers attending the workshop are eligible for research awards linked to a mentoring program. UCT and ACS staff provide mentorship during the development of their proposals, data collection, data analysis and preparation of manuscripts and presentations. These awards contribute to increasing the quantity and quality of academic papers and presentations on issues related to the economics of tobacco control in SSA.


Tax training

UCT, in coordination with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and African Tobacco Control Consortium (ATCC partners), hosts an annual tax training workshop. Although preference is given to the ATCC priority countries (Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Gambia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia), it is foreseen that other countries may also benefit from the training over the course of the project, which is consistent with the aim of broadening the knowledge base in the economics of tobacco control in the larger sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. 

The aim of the tax training workshops is to provide technical assistance to government officials, NGO staff, members of the media, academics and policy makers regarding tax changes as a tobacco control strategy and a way to collect more taxes. The workshops are tailored to each country’s needs. The preference is to work with countries where there is the political will to increase the tax rate and/or improve the tax structure to make it more efficient. We ideally work with a single point person in the country who in turn uses his/her contacts to put a team of delegates together. To date, both the tax workshops have been held at UCT.  

For further information about the workshops, including enquiries about hosting a workshop in your country please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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