The Workshop on Tobacco Economics for Central and Eastern Europe was held on the 8th and 9th of October at the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Institute-Oncology Centre in Warsaw. The workshop was coordinated and organized by Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention of the Institute in a collaboration with US National Cancer Institute (NCI) and Activity for Innovation and Economic Growth (AIEG), along with participation from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the Tobacconomics team at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The main objective of the meeting was the development of a regional network to support research and advocacy in the economics of tobacco use and tobacco control in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region. The workshop was attended by representatives from 14 countries – Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and USA. Participants included economists, health professionals, and tobacco control advocates.
The workshop program included lectures and plenary discussions, chaired by specialists with significant scientific achievements in the field of economics and public health. Professor Frank Chaloupka of the University of Illinois gave the opening presentation on the role and importance of economic data in information tobacco control programs and policies. Then Professor Marzenna Weresa of the Warsaw School of Economics gave an overview of tobacco taxation and tobacco control policies in Poland. Other presentations highlighted research projects from various countries in the region, focusing on the economic costs of tobacco use, tobacco tax policies, illicit trade measures, and methods for economic analyses.
The second day of the workshop began with a panel discussion on translating economic evidence for policy advocacy, drawing on experience from countries in the region. The presentations and discussion provided an opportunity to share experience and challenges across the region and to highlight “best practices” in tobacco control. Participants worked together to identify research priorities and areas for future cooperation.
Key conclusions and recommendations from the discussions include the following:
- Cigarette Demand Studies
- The quality and extent of data on taxation, price, and tobacco use is limited in the region. In particular, historical data is lacking, which limits the ability to track trends over time.
- A harmonized data platform for demand studies in the region would be an important contribution, but this is a long term goal.
- In the short term, researchers can share experience and methods to make use of available data. Partners should explore the potential for a regional clearinghouse for sharing data and information resources.
- Addressing Tobacco Industry Economic Arguments
- Analyses are needed to estimate the net cost to country economies per pack of cigarettes. Such analyses would be useful for advocacy purposes and to show the true cost of tobacco use.
- Analyses to estimate the return on investment in tobacco control should also be a high priority. Such analyses go beyond cost-effectiveness along to characterize what benefits a country experiences from investing in tobacco control.
- There is also a need for a checklist of key economic measures (and proxies). This checklist would act as a guide to researchers and advocates to identify available sources of information.
We hope for further fruitful cooperation and aim to expand the network to develop research capacity and to inform tobacco control policy in Central and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region.