The Tobacco Control Research Group (TCRG) is an award-winning team providing cutting-edge academic research. The group was started by Professor Anna Gilmore in 2011 and has achieved real impact, particularly on tobacco policy in the UK and globally, thanks to its excellent research publications and the innovative knowledge-exchange platform Tobacco Tactics.
Researching the commercial determinants of public health
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are already responsible or almost 70% of global deaths and that figure is rising. Many of these diseases are driven by the consumption of unhealthy commodities (tobacco, alcohol, sugar-sweetened beverages, ultra-processed foods, excess salt) which are promoted by major industries. These deaths are therefore largely preventable. Consequently, over the last 10 years there has been a growing literature arguing that NCDs should be understood as 'industrial epidemics' emerging from the commercialisation of health damaging products, and that the corporations themselves should be studied as social determinants of health. Our research examines the ways that the commercial sector impacts on health, including via influence on science and policy, and uses this knowledge to identify appropriate public health interventions.
Through its research programme TCRG researches corporate influence on health behaviours, outcomes and policy, helping to expand understanding of the role corporations play in influencing health and how this can be addressed. Particular interests in this area include:
- developing evidence-based taxonomies of corporate behaviour that can inform policy and advocacy responses
- the tobacco industry's involvement in the illicit tobacco trade and its attempts to influence policy responses in this area
- corporate influence on upstream policies such as Better Regulation which set the framework through which more downstream public health policies are assessed
- tobacco industry claims of interest in harm reduction, including the activities and research it funds, and new product development
- evaluating the impacts of public health policies including smokefree legislation, standardised ('plain') packaging, public health mass marketing campaigns and tax
- developing evidence for public health policies
Our membership includes staff and PhD students from across the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Management.
Disseminating our research to a wider audience
As well as producing academic outputs the TCRG created and runs Tobacco Tactics, a ground-breaking knowledge-exchange platform which aims to make TCRG work easily accessible to policy-makers, civil servants, NGOs and the media globally. It contains fully-referenced profiles of corporations, organisations and individuals with links to the tobacco industry and is constantly updated. The model has been so successful that the TCRG have supported the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Secretariat in setting up tobacco industry observatories in Brazil and Sri Lanka which replicate the model.
The TCRG works closely with the World Health Organisation, World Bank and FCTC Secretariat, national and international NGOs and policy-makers, and frequently provides evidence to parliamentary inquiries, ministerial and inter-ministerial meetings, as well as working extensively with the press.
Recognition for our achievements
- 2020 Vice-Chancellor's Research Medal Professor Anna Gilmore. This award is made in recognition of sustained record of research excellence and impact.
- 2019 European Health Leadership Award 'A healthy dose of disruption'. The inaugural award recognises 'pioneering change makers' who have shown 'transformative innovation and leadership in safeguarding or improving the health of people in Europe'.
- 2016 Public Health Science Conference Early-career Research Award Karen Evans-Reeves, runner-up Best Presentation by an early-career researcher, Content analysis of tobacco industry data on the illicit tobacco trade in UK newspapers during the standardised packaging debate.
- 2014 Cancer Research UK Training and Career Development Board Research Travel Award Karen Evans-Reeves.
- 2012 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health, Young Investigator Award, Silvy Peeters.
- 2009 Public Health Advocacy Institute International Award for Outstanding Use of Tobacco Industry Documents Prof Anna Gilmore, presented to honour 'innovative application of these documents to improve the health of people around the world'.
- 2008 World No Tobacco Day medal Prof Anna Gilmore, given in recognition of 'outstanding efforts in [the] research of tobacco control and tobacco industry strategies in Europe'.