Stirling scientist secures £3.4 million to tackle tobacco-related harm in Asia and Africa

Linda web
Professor Bauld, Director of the University’s Institute for Social Marketing and Cancer Research UK Prevention Champion is leading the project

A team of researchers, led by the University of Stirling, has been awarded £3.4 million from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund to reduce tobacco-related harm in low and middle income countries in Asia and Africa.

Led by Professor Linda Bauld, the multi-disciplinary four-year project involves six UK universities from the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, eight overseas partners in seven countries and Cancer Research UK.

The scheme is part of one of the most ambitious international research programmes ever created, with £225 million invested across 37 interdisciplinary projects.

Professor Bauld, Director of the University’s Institute for Social Marketing and Cancer Research UK Prevention Champion, said: “Smoking kills more people every year than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. As smoking dwindles to a minority activity in the UK, the number of smokers is still increasing elsewhere. By 2030, it’s predicted that more than 80 per cent of tobacco-related deaths will occur in low and middle income countries.

“The tobacco epidemic was created in the developed world, where smoking rates sky-rocketed in previous decades. It took us many years to work out how to bring them down, through research, advocacy, communicating health risks, and introducing evidence-based policies.

“We are proud that the Institute of Social Marketing, as part of the multi-UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, has been at the centre of driving these positive changes. This vital funding will allow us to work with developing countries to help combat one of the world’s biggest preventable causes of death and continue to make a real difference to global health.”


Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “We have a thriving, world-leading community of researchers at Stirling committed to improving the lives of others. This significant investment from RCUK recognises the quality and importance of the work carried out within the Institute of Social Marketing to reduce tobacco-related harm around the world.

“We have outlined major ambitions for Stirling research in our Strategic Plan and Professor Bauld is to be congratulated on this impressive grant. Securing the funding to lead this collaborative, international team of researchers is a fantastic achievement. I have no doubt it is just the first of many major research grants for the University over the coming years.”

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: “From healthcare to green energy, the successful projects receiving funding today highlight the strength of the UK’s research base and our leadership in helping developing countries tackle some of the greatest global issues of our time.

“At a time when the pace of scientific discovery and innovation is quickening, we are placing science and research at the heart of our Industrial Strategy to build on our strengths and maintain our status as science powerhouse.” 

Andrew Thompson, RCUK GCRF Champion, said: “The 37 projects announced today build research capacity both here in the UK and in developing countries to address systemic development challenges,  from African agriculture to sustainable cities, clean oceans, and green energy, to improved healthcare, food security, and gender equality.”

According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year, with the majority of tobacco-related deaths occurring in low and middle income countries.

The researchers hope to bring down smoking rates in less well-off countries by conducting research to inform tobacco taxation, tackle the illicit trade in tobacco and target tobacco companies’ efforts to undermine governments’ attempts to reduce smoking

They will work with researchers in the South Asian and Sub-Saharan African countries of India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Uganda, Ethiopia, The Gambia and Ghana to offer training and research support.

The team will also partner with local academics to develop and implement approaches to address Asian and African nations’ tobacco consumption.

Global Challenges Research Fund: Tobacco control capacity programme Global Challenges Research Fund: Tobacco control capacity programme By the year 2030, more than 80% of tobacco-related deaths will occur in low and middle income countries Abstract pie chart Pie charts arranged to look like cigarettes Cigarette Tobacco kills more than 7 million people each year Stacks of coins Abstract coins with a pound sterling symbol £3.4m RCUK Global Challenges Research Fund grant People 15 people icons, arranged into three rows of five 15 partners Working in 8 countries Worldwide A graphic icon representing planet Earth W o r k i n g i n 8 c o u n t r i e s Bring down smoking rates in developing countries by: Paper money supporting tobacco taxation No-entry sign tackling illicittobacco trade Target targeting tobacco company interference
Background information

Media enquiries to Corrie Campbell, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 169 or

Full list of research partners:

  • UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS): universities of Stirling, Nottingham, York, Edinburgh, Kings College London and Bath.
  • Cancer Research UK
  • The ARK Foundation, Bangladesh
  • Manipal University, India
  • The Public Health Foundation of India
  • The University of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • The MRC Unit, The Gambia
  • Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana

More details on each of the 37 grants can be found in the Growing research capability to meet the challenges faced by developing countries

Find out more about the Institute of Social

Find out more about the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies:

Find out more about Cancer Research UK’s international tobacco control programme:

Find out more about tobacco consumption via the World Health Organisation:

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)
GCRF is a £1.5 billion fund that supports cutting-edge research which addresses the global issues faced by developing countries. It harnesses the expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers, focusing on: funding challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research; strengthening capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange; and providing an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need. It forms part of UK Government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and is overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 17 delivery partners including the Research Councils, the UK Academies, the UK Space Agency and funding bodies.

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