Development Solution Associates (DSA) organized an International conference on the importance of smoking reduction and its role in creating a healthy and wealthy society in Tirana, Albania, on 2-3 November 2022. The conference was organized within the project: Accelerating tobacco taxation policies in low and middle-income countries, which is being realized in partnership with the University of Illinois Chicago - Institute for Health Research and Policy. This project aims to produce high-quality economic research on the socio-economic impacts of tobacco taxation in Western Balkan countries and to support policy dialogue by disseminating their research findings to policymakers.
The event in Tirana brought together researchers on tobacco economics, representatives of government institutions and civil society organizations, and other stakeholders from the Western Balkan countries and partners from the United States. The representatives of Albanian state authorities gave opening remarks, whereas the University of Illinois Chicago representatives delivered the keynote speech.
During the two-day event, research results on tobacco use, farming, and taxation were presented and discussed within sessions and round tables. Based on fruitful discussions, recommendations for policymakers were made to improve current policies' effectiveness. The represetatives of project partner organizations presented research results: DSA (Albania), Institute of Economic Sciences (Serbia), ISEA (Montenegro), University of Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina), D+ (Kosovo*), Analytica (Northern Macedonia), Smoke-Free Life Coalition (Bulgaria), and AIR (Romania). The presentations were given within the four sessions:
Within the first roundtable, researchers and decision-makers discussed tobacco control policies - best practices, lessons learned, and the importance of evidence-based policymaking. The second roundtable was dedicated to the current and future needs of evidence-based tobacco control policymaking, including the implications for applied research and policy dialogue.
It was jointly concluded that policymakers should make greater use of the results of relevant research. Additionally, continuous work must be done to inform the relevant representatives of state authorities and the general public of the importance of tobacco taxation for creating healthy and wealthy societies in Western Balkan countries.