Research highlights the tobacco control policies that work

Research released today at WCTOH highlights the huge strides being made in tobacco control globally. These results demonstrate that point-of-sale restrictions, comprehensive tobacco taxation policies and tobacco crop substitution continue to be powerful interventions in the fight against tobacco use.

“The high quality of the science being presented in Cape Town comes at a pivotal moment in tobacco control,” said Dr Flavia Senkubuge, President of the 17th WCTOH. “These studies confirm that we know what works in tobacco control. There has been astounding public health progress being made to eliminate smoking over the past two decades.”

Researchers spoke at the press conference that announced these studies, highlighting these successes.

In the United Kingdom, a ban on the open display of tobacco products was phased in between 2012 and 2015. Three waves of the Youth Tobacco Policy Survey were used to examine the impact of the ban on youth, pre-, mid- and post-implementation. Allison Ford of the University of Stirling, Scotland reported that in 2016 the vast majority of the study’s sample felt that having cigarettes behind closed shutters made them seem unappealing and made them think that it's not OK to smoke.


In China there are 20 million tobacco farmers. Showing that income from non-tobacco crops can exceed income from growing tobacco is essential for persuading farming families to stop planting tobacco. Kelvin Khow Chuan Heng of the World Health Organization reported that compared to 2012, tobacco planting dropped significantly, whereas the area devoted to vegetables and fruits has increased 24 percent.

Chukwuka Onyekwena of the Centre for the Study of the Economics of Africa reported on a study on the potential for tobacco tax to improve public health in Nigeria. The study reported that to be truly effective, tobacco control tax policy in Nigeria would need to see a 275 percent increase in excise tax, a change in tobacco tax structure, and stronger tax administration and revenue-collecting.

In closing, Dr Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Chair of the WCTOH Scientific Committee, said that this research shows the need to look at the totality of the supply chain of tobacco products, and to follow the whole process from farming, through to taxation, through to point-of-sale restrictions.

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