See the project’s factsheets on tobacco taxation in West Africa

Read the blog summarising key research findings so far.


Africa is vulnerable to the tobacco industry. It has a large and young population, rapid economic growth, a desire to attract foreign investment, and weak tobacco control policies. Although smoking prevalence in many African countries is modest, preventing its rise, especially amongst youth, remains a huge challenge.

Policymakers are often unaware of the win-win benefits of increased tobacco taxation; that is, increasing government revenues while reducing consumption and improving health outcomes for the population. Furthermore, the tobacco industry is very actively lobbying against tobacco taxes, making spurious cases for the wrong type of tax structure, and propagating false arguments about the likely effects of increased taxation, such as exaggerating the likelihood of increases in tobacco smuggling. Countries often struggle to counter the industry’s claims that tax increases are going to hurt the poor, lead to job losses, and promote illicit trade.

In a positive step, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted a new directive on tobacco taxation in December 2017. The goal of the research project is to assist member states in implementing the directive, by providing both regional analysis and in-depth diagnostic and economic modelling studies in three key countries: Nigeria, Senegal, and Ghana.

The Research

This project will be conducted in partnership with the Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) at the University of Cape Town (project lead) and the Consortium pour la recherche économique et sociale (CRES) based in Senegal. The research will identify:

  1. Best practices in tobacco taxation, focusing on the impact of tobacco tax increases on tobacco consumption, government tax revenue and industry pricing of tobacco products
  2. The economic impact of tobacco control policies
  3. Policy barriers to fiscal measures
  4. Financing mechanisms for tobacco control

This project will entail the close involvement of West African researchers and policymakers in designing and conducting the research, and translating it into specific recommendations to be communicated more broadly to promote effective policy implementation.

This project is part of the IDRC and CRUK Economics of Tobacco Control Research Initiative, and will collaborate closely with another project funded under the same initiative being conducted by the Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa in Nigeria, and the ICTD-funded project by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana.

Project inception workshop in Dakar, May 2019
Members of the project team at a meeting in February 2019.


Corné van Walbeek

Corné van Walbeek is a Professor at the School of Economics and Principal Investigator of the Economics of Tobacco Control Project, University of Cape Town.

Hana Ross

Hana is the Principle Research Officer for the Economics of Tobacco Control project at the University of Cape Town. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has over seventeen years' experience in conducting research on the economics of tobacco control and in management of research projects in low- and middle-income countries. Her current research projects focus on the economic impact of tobacco control interventions in Africa, South East Asia, and in the European Union. She is also interested in the economic impact of risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption.

Abdoulaye Diagne

Pape Yona Mané

Kisten van der Zee