Institute of Economic Sciences today announced that it is joining a collaboration of economics and fiscal policy researchers focused on increasing tobacco taxes as a way to reduce tobacco use in seven South Eastern European (SEE) countries (Serbia, Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo).
Based in Belgrade, IES will join organizations working in seven other countries in Latin America and Asia that are also currently part of the same collaboration on the economics of tobacco taxes.
Led by a team of economists from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC), Institute for Health Research and Policy, the collaboration functions through a web-based platform called “Tobacconomics.” Frank Chaloupka, PhD., of UIC heads the global team of economists.
A scientific and research institution, IES is engaged in research in macroeconomics, microeconomics, regional economic development, and development studies of domestic and world markets. IES is also engaged in consulting, training and education related to modern business economics, management, marketing, entrepreneurship, finance and banking. IES is headed by Jovan Zubović, Ph.D., who is leading the research team of the SEE group of countries working on tobacco taxes. The research team for Serbia will be led by Isidora Ljumovic, Ph.D.
“In Serbia alone, more than 2.5 million people smoke and 20,000 of them die each year from smoking related diseases. Increasing tobacco taxes, along with other tobacco control policies like smoke-free laws and marketing bans, has been shown globally to reduce the death toll from tobacco and raise revenues for health and development programs,” according to Ljumovic.
“IES will focus on economic research specific to the Republic of Serbia, with a special emphasis on costs and benefits of tobacco, supply- side impacts of tobacco tax increases, tax avoidance and illicit trade, and tobacco tax impacts on poverty and inequality,” Ljumovic said. The other countries in the IES group will engage in similar country-specific research, with IES serving as a hub to compile a regional report.
Established in 1958, IES has a long and rich history, with special attention on the promotion and advancement of scientific research through the exchange of information and ideas among scientific, business, NGOs and government experts at the national, regional, European and world levels.
Besides IES, the current group of UIC’s international partners and the target countries in which they are funded by UIC to work are: PRAKARSA and the Tax Centre at the University of Indonesia (Indonesia); Institute of Public Policy and Management (IPPM) at the National Economics University (NEU) and the Development and Policies Research Center (Vietnam); and the South American Network on Applied Economics/Red Sur (Red Sudamericana de Economía Aplicada/Red Sur), which is working in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Peru. The UIC-based Tobacconomics research team will provide technical assistance to the international partners.
According to the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, raising tobacco taxes is a win-win strategy for all countries, but especially low- and middle-income countries, which account for 80% of the six million people that die each year from tobacco use. Evidence from around the world shows that higher taxes and prices reduce tobacco use and bring in new revenues, which can finance health and development efforts.
UIC is a core partner of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use. The Bloomberg Philanthropies initiative’s main goals are to raise awareness of the harms caused by tobacco and assist low and middle-income countries implement strong tobacco control policies to reduce tobacco use. Over the past ten years, the initiative has supported 59 countries in passing tobacco control laws or policies, reaching nearly 3.5 billion people and saving an estimated 30 million lives.