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Two More Countries Join Tobacconomics Partnerships to Reduce Global Tobacco Use

Researchers from Pakistan and Bangladesh have become the newest members of Tobacconomics’ international partners that will conduct economic research to help inform and shape tobacco control policies in the two countries.

The new international partners are the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) in Bangladesh, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) and the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC) in Pakistan. They join an existing partnership of six organizations covering 14 countries that was announced on March 9, 2018.

The partnership, coordinated by Tobacconomics policy researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) Institute for Health Research and Policy, engages in research to produce local evidence on the economic impacts of tobacco taxation.

Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have complex tax systems on tobacco products, and both have opportunities to increase tobacco taxes, reduce tobacco consumption and generate new revenues that can be used for health and development efforts. Researchers from the two South Asian countries will address these issues through evidence-based policy research. The UIC-based Tobacconomics research team will provide technical assistance to the international partners.

UIC professor Frank J. Chaloupka, PhD, who directs the Tobacconomics team, said all the international partners will focus on building country-level economic evidence to inform policy makers on efforts to reduce tobacco use and save lives using fiscal policies.

The Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) (2014) estimates that in Pakistan 23.9 million adults use tobacco in some form; and 22.1 % of men and 2.1% women smoke tobacco. In Bangladesh, 41.3 million adults use tobacco in some form; and 44.7% men and 1.5% women smoke tobacco, as estimated by GATS (2009).

“Tobacco taxes and prices are low in both countries. A simplified tax structure and big increases in tax rates are needed to make tobacco less affordable. The fear of illicit trade and local industry disruption is not a reason to avoid raising tobacco taxes,” according to Chaloupka. “Many countries have raised tobacco taxes, reduced tobacco use, and increased revenues, while improving tax administration and supporting development,” he said. “The newest members of our partnership will help to build the evidence needed to inform government efforts to implement effective taxes and save lives.”

The three organizations from Pakistan and Bangladesh will join: PRAKARSA and the Tax Centre at the University of Indonesia (Indonesia); Institute of Public Policy and Management (IPPM) at the National Economics University (NEU) and the Development and Policies Research Center (Vietnam); South American Network on Applied Economics/Red Sur (Red Sudamericana de Economía Aplicada/Red Sur) which will cover Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru; and the Institute of Economic Sciences which will cover Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

UIC is a core partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. The Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative’s main goals are to raise awareness of the harms caused by tobacco and assist low and middle-income countries implement strong tobacco control policies to reduce tobacco use. Over the past ten years, the initiative has supported 59 countries in passing tobacco control laws or policies, reaching nearly 3.5 billion people and saving an estimated 30 million lives.