Academics from the Tobacco Control Research Group and School of Management were in South Africa earlier this month to participate in the influential World Conference on Tobacco or Health.

The global event, which takes place every three years, focuses on tobacco control as a global issue, crossing all geographic boundaries.

Bringing together public health experts from more than 100 countries under the banner ‘Uniting the World for a Tobacco Free Generation’, it was an opportunity for delegates to hear from scientists, public health officials and policy-makers working on different aspects of tobacco control.

Set against the backdrop of increasing pressures faced in many parts of the developing world from intense industry lobbying, the conference was also set in the context of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) - the only international, legally-binding health treaty of the 21st century.

Members of the Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) shared findings from their research on tobacco tax and pricing, the case of standardised packaging and industry influence in the UK, the illicit trade in tobacco, the industry’s bribery and corruption in Africa, as well as lessons learned from establishing a comprehensive tobacco industry monitoring and research programme.

It was also an opportunity to showcase how the group’s website ‘TobaccoTactics’ is being used to share insights between public health researchers about the activities of the tobacco industry.

The conference included a plenary presentation from Professor Anna Gilmore, Director of TCRG, looking at the latest evidence on tobacco industry interference on public health policies, and a panel contribution into what many see as the tobacco industry’s latest global front group - the Foundation for a Smoke Free World.

Professor Gilmore explained: “The University of Bath team, represented by four members of staff, was honoured to be so actively involved in the World Conference, participating in 10 sessions across the three days. There was much interest in our work, including in our innovative knowledge exchange platform, 'TobaccoTactics'.

"For us, it was also an opportunity to learn, to meet colleagues from around the world and be inspired. The conference organisers must be congratulated on putting together such an excellent meeting."