UKCTAS researchers have been awarded a £3.4million grant from Research Councils UK to address tobacco-related harm in Asia and Africa. The programme will run for four years and aims to build capacity for tobacco control research in seven countries in South Asia and Africa.
Led by Professor Linda Bauld, UKCTAS Deputy Director based at the University of Stirling, this Global Challenges Research Fund grant provides an example of how UKCTAS is able to bring together members of the UK tobacco control research community to respond to an opportunity to address tobacco use in low and middle income countries.
It involves six of the academic teams within the UKCTAS consortia and Cancer Research UK, one of the UKCTAS funders. CRUK is already very active in international tobacco control research.
Professor Bauld said:
"UKCTAS has made an important contribution to informing policies and new developments to reduce smoking rates in the UK over the past decade, culminating in the very significant prevalence reductions we've seen in the past few years. This is testament to the links we have worked hard to forge with government, NGOs, advocacy groups, professionals and the public who have helped translate our research into practice. Our work on smokefree public places, tobacco taxation, mass media, smoking cessation & stop smoking services, electronic cigarettes & tobacco harm reduction, and our monitoring of tobacco industry activity has all fed into these changes.
Now through this GCRF programme we have a unique opportunity to help build capacity in 7 other countries, all in South Asia and Africa, adding to individual projects and links that UKCTAS members had already forged with some of these teams in recent years. A core element of our Centre has always been training and research development, from PhD through post-doctoral level, training professionals and engaging with stakeholders in the UK and Europe. Now we will be extending this through a substantial new programme of research and capacity building with a particular focus on tobacco taxation, the illicit trade and tobacco industry influence on policy. We will be working with the following list of senior researchers and their teams (below), as well as Alison Cox and her colleagues at Cancer Research UK, over the next four years. We are grateful to Research Councils UK for this opportunity."
The UK co-applicants on the grant include: Professors John Britton and Andrew Fogarty (Nottingham), Professor Kamran Siddiqi and Dr Steve Parrot (York), Professor Jeff Collin (Edinburgh), Professor Anna Gilmore (Bath) and Professor Ann McNeill (Kings College).
International co-applicants include:
- Dr Wakgari Deressa, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
- Dr Muralidhar Madhav Kulkarni, Manipal University, India
- Professor Umberto Dalessandro, MRC Unit, the Gambia
- Dr Monika Arora, Public Health Foundation of India
- Dr Ellis Owusudabo, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
- Kellen Nyamurungi, CTCA, Makerere University, Uganda
- Dr Rumana Hugue, the ARK Foundation, Bangladesh
- Professor Corne van Walbeek, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Multi-million pound backing for scientists to tackle tobacco-related harm in Asia and Africa
A team of researchers, led by the University of Stirling, has been awarded £3.4 million from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund to reduce tobacco-related harm in low and middle income countries in Asia and Africa.
Led by Professor Linda Bauld, the multi-disciplinary four-year project involves six UK universities from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, eight overseas partners in seven countries and Cancer Research UK.
With nearly 80% of the world's 1 billion smokers living in low and middle income countries, the experts hope to bring down smoking rates in developing countries. They aim to conduct research to inform tobacco taxation, tackle the illicit trade in tobacco and target tobacco companies’ efforts to undermine governments’ attempts to reduce smoking.
The scheme is part of one of the most ambitious international research programmes ever created, with £225 million invested across 37 interdisciplinary projects. The experts will work with researchers the South Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries of India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Uganda, Gambia and Ghana to offer training and research support.
They will also partner with local academics to develop and implement approaches to tackling Asian and African nations’ tobacco consumption.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK, said:
“Smoking causes more preventable cancers worldwide than anything else. This award provides a unique opportunity to bring together CRUK’s existing international tobacco control research programme with substantial new investment from RCUK to make a significant contribution to research capacity to prevent cancer sooner in countries where the need is greatest.
“We are particularly pleased to see a strong focus in the programme on research to address the affordability and availability of tobacco in LMICs, as our own studies and those of our global partners have shown that addressing both supply and demand is crucial if we are to see real reductions in smoking rates.”
Professor Bauld, Director of the University’s Institute for Social Marketing and Cancer Research UK Cancer Prevention Champion, said:
“As smoking dwindles to a minority activity in the UK, the number of smokers is still increasing elsewhere. Smoking kills more people every year than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. By 2030, it’s predicted that more than 80% of tobacco-related deaths will occur in low and middle income countries.
“The tobacco epidemic was created in the developed world, where smoking rates sky-rocketed in previous decades. It took us many years to work out how to bring them down, through research, advocacy, communicating health risks, and introducing evidence-based policies. This funding will allow us to work with countries that are now at the forefront of efforts to combat the world’s biggest preventable causes of death.”
The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund is supporting projects in the range of £2 – 8 million over four years.
It aims to build upon research knowledge in the UK, and strengthen capacity overseas, to help address challenges, informed by expressed need in the developing countries.
Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said:
“From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.
“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.”
Andrew Thompson, RCUK GCRF Champion, said:
“The 37 projects announced today build research capacity both here in the UK and in developing countries to address systemic development challenges, from African agriculture to sustainable cities, clean oceans, and green energy, to improved healthcare, food security, and gender equality.”
Professor Thompson added:
“The ambition is to lay the foundations for a sustained and targeted research effort to address the most intractable challenges faced by the world today, climate change, disease and epidemics, food insecurity, rapid urbanisation, and forced displacement and protracted conflict.”
Projects consist of UK and developing-country researchers, working together as equal partners and include:
• addressing real-world problems such as the growing prevalence of diabetes and dementia in both the developing world and in western countries.
• utilising the potential of museums not only to reflect on past lives but also to promote social justice, strong institutions and fair societies.
• creating novel manufacturing processes for solar power and smart technologies for a second Green Revolution in crop yields.
• For full list of projects see http://bit.ly/GCRFgrowbrochure
Professor Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive designate of UK Research and Innovation, said:
“In the same way that facing these global challenges requires a multi-national response, finding the solutions to them requires researchers from many disciplines to work together. The Global Challenges Research Fund makes that possible, and means that the UK’s world-leading researchers are able to get on with the job of working with each other and partners across the globe to make the world and society more sustainable.”