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IARC: Methods for Evaluating Tobacco Control Policies

IARC: Methods for Evaluating Tobacco Control Policies (2008)

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer research agency of the World Health Organisation, provides a guide for evaluating the effects of interventions and policies that aim to reduce tobacco use in the society (IARC, 2008). The handbook was published as a part of the IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention series.

The interventions and policies presented in the book include measures that have been implemented by local, regional or national governments to control the use of tobacco, such as pricing and taxation policies, smoking bans in public places, and awareness raising campaigns. The focus of the guide is on evaluating already implemented policy interventions, and on assessing their effectiveness. The handbook presents theoretical models, methods, useful data resources and practical tools for evaluating various interventions targeting tobacco use, such as laws, regulations and administrative decisions.

Four broad themes are covered in the guide. They include:

  1. methods to determine the effects of a policy,
  2. understanding why and how a given policy works,
  3. considering potential moderator variables, and
  4. useful data sources for evaluation.

The handbook introduces a common framework for evaluating WHO FCTC policies and interventions. However, the guide is not restricted to FCTC measures only but can be applied to many types of tobacco control evaluations both on a national and local level. A framework is needed to ensure evidence-based evaluation of the policy implementations, as stated in the Convention. 

The handbook presents tobacco control evaluation in the context of preventing cancer and other tobacco-related diseases. The ultimate goal of tobacco control policies and interventions, following the FCTC, is to reduce the harmful impact tobacco use has on public health. However, the IARC handbook focuses on short to medium term outcomes of the policies that eventually may lead to long-term impacts on a population level.

Source: IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Tobacco Control, Vol. 12: Methods for Evaluating Tobacco Control Policies (2008: Lyon, France).

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