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E-library focusing on tobacco trade launched

During the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, a ban on tobacco and related products was implemented. At the time, the ban had given rise to illicit cigarette sales, where a packet of cigarettes cost up to R 200 and a carton cost R2000. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

During the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, a ban on tobacco and related products was implemented. At the time, the ban had given rise to illicit cigarette sales, where a packet of cigarettes cost up to R 200 and a carton cost R2000. Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 11, 2021

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Cape Town - A new e-library focusing on tobacco taxation and illicit trade has been launched by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) framework convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

The Knowledge Hub at the University of Cape Town’s research unit will be on the economics of excisable products (Reep).

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The project, which has been set to be a valuable resource for students, researchers and policymakers across the globe, aimed to consolidate and classify available literature on tobacco taxation and illicit trade in tobacco products.

Director for Reep Professor Corne Van Walbeek said while other e-libraries focused on the economics of tobacco do exist, the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub at Reep’s e-library was the first of its kind, focusing specifically on the aspects of taxation and illicit trade.

“It’s a well-known fact that increasing the excise tax on cigarettes and tobacco products is the single most important way of reducing tobacco use,” said Van Walbeek.

Infographic e-library

“So, the idea with the e-library was to consolidate the substantial body of work on tobacco taxation and illicit trade in tobacco products that already exists, to make it easier for interested parties – whether academics, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or policymakers – to access relevant information within a few clicks.”

Programme manager for WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on tobacco taxation and illicit trade Samantha Filby said one of their responsibilities was to disseminate information to parties in the FCTC treaty.

Filby said they were doing that through a “resource” tab on their website but realised that a comprehensive e-library would make for a much more user-friendly solution.

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She said while she was currently adding documents manually on a regular basis, automation plans, using natural language processing, were in the pipeline.

“The idea is that we feed the machine the 1 700 articles, that I’ve already classified, as a kind of training exercise,” said Filby.

Cape Argus

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