Most existing research on tobacco and harm reduction and safer nicotine alternatives has been conducted in high-income countries, and is not always relevant to low and middle income countries. Research on tobacco harm reduction has impact when it helps to inform the decision-making of key policymakers and the thinking of key influencers. We strive to build research capacity in the field of tobacco harm reduction develop and apply findings from these new studies to inform the implementation of effective tobacco harm reduction measures.
On the African continent, smoking is on the rise. Tackling this challenge requires local evidence to increase awareness and effectively formulate a tailored response to attain a smoke-free Africa. These policies must be informed by research, data and statistics. Our tobacco harm reduction research agenda articulates these priority research areas and sets out how they can be coordinated and shared among research institutions and partners in the region.
A number of gaps have been identified in policy implementation which necessitates a harmonized approach to generate critical local evidence to drive the response. These include:
(1) limited local evidence to drive best practices for policy adoption and implementation;
(2) inadequate capacity for tobacco harm reduction research especially in non-health related areas such as economics, policy analysis and evaluation;
(3) disjointed platforms for communicating, disseminating and sharing best practices on tobacco harm reduction in Africa; and
(4) the need to focus research funding towards high priority areas.
The tobacco harm reduction agenda for Africa addresses these research gaps by outlining a research framework that identifies research priorities and existing research capacities and gaps, documenting the existing research collaborations and teams, providing a guide for research coordination at regional and national level as well as identifying mechanisms that bring researchers together to share information and translate research findings into actions. Tobacco harm reduction is dynamic and therefore requires updated evidence to suit the changing landscape and dynamic nature of the implementation environment.
Our research objectives are to identify and support cutting edge innovative research projects to address key knowledge gaps of the priority research themes in Africa. The findings of the research projects will contribute to building an evidence base that will specifically;
- Provide decision makers with up to date context specific smoking burden status to guide development and implementation of interventions
- Promote reduction of tobacco use among key populations such as youths, women, etc
- Unravel and catalyze uptake of the gains of alternative livelihood approaches over tobacco growing
- Uncover and reverse the socio-behavioral patterns of cigarette smoking and dependence