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Former Graduate Students

IMAG0488Grieve Chelwa (PhD 2015)  

The Economics of Tobacco in Zambia

Grieve started his PhD studies at UCT in March 2012 and graduated in December 2015. His thesis consists of three chapters. The first was a study of the impact that tobacco consumption has on households’ expenditure on other goods and services. The second chapter considers the estimation of price and income elasticities of tobacco, based on a large cross-sectional data-set from Uganda. The third chapter uses a “synthetic control” method to evaluate South Africa’s tobacco control efforts since 1994. The method creates a credible counter-factual of what would have happened to tobacco consumption in South Africa, had it not been for the tax increases and the other legislative interventions. Grieve finds that the tax interventions have reduced consumption by more than a third in South Africa, relative to the control countries.

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Jamie Tam (Visiting PhD Student 2011 )

Tobacco legislation in Namibia

Jamie received her MPH at the University of Michigan where she is currently a doctoral student in health policy. She conducts research on tobacco politics in Southern Africa (with special attention to the case of Namibia) under the mentorship of Corné van Walbeek. She also investigates a wide range of tobacco control policy issues as a Research Assistant to Professor Kenneth Warner at the University of Michigan. Jamie has previously served in the Office of Policy at the Center for Tobacco Products (United States Food and Drug Administration) and as an International Research Intern at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.


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Lara Kruger (Masters 2014)

The prevalence of water-pipe smoking among tertiary students in the Western Cape

In her thesis, Lara investigated the prevalence and determinants of water pipe smoking amongst students in the Western Cape province of South Africa (i.e. UCT, Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape, and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology). In the study she surveyed 4578 from about 107 000 registered students in the Western Cape. She found that 63% of Western Cape university students ever smoked waterpipe, 9.9% of students smoked waterpipe in the past 30 days and 17.7% of students smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days. She found that waterpipe smoking has a strong socialization aspect, and that 25% of users reported health problems related to smoking tobacco.  Her thesis was submitted and accepted for publication in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Nicole VIMGellios (Masters graduate 2013)

The Determinants of Smoking initiation in South Africa

The first wave of the National Income and Dynamics Study was used to identify the determinants of smoking initiation using survival analysis. Socio-economic factors and personal factors (e.g. having lost a parent by age 15) have some effect on some groups, but not on others. The price of cigarettes in the year in which the person started to smoke has a significant negative impact on the decision to initiate smoking amongst males, but not amongst females.


jodie pic (1)Jodie Posen (Masters graduate 2013)

The impact of excise tax harmonization in the East African community

Jodie completed her Masters thesis in February 2013. Her thesis considered the likely impact of tax simplification and harmonisation in the five countries comprising the East African Community (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda). She came to the conclusion that tax simplification and harmonisation would result in substantial fiscal benefits and cigarette consumption reductions in these countries, but that the benefits would not be equal. Countries with current lower excise taxes would benefit more, while countries with current higher excise taxes would benefit somewhat less. The study could have significant policy impact since these countries have been considering tax harmonisation through the EAC Secretariat.


Diana Nyabongo (Masters 2014)

The effective level of protection of South African cigarettes manufacturers

In her thesis, Diana considered the cigarette market in South Africa and the impact that the trade tariffs have had on the ability of the industry to raise the net-of-tax price of cigarettes. The paper has a strong theoretical section and an empirical section. The results were largely inconclusive, i.e. it is not clear to what extent the tariff structure contributed to the industry’s strategy of raising the net-of-tax price since the early 1990s.  The study was co-supervised by a UCT professor who specialises in international trade, Lawrence Edwards.

IMG00038-20120304-1944Linda Nyabongo (Masters 2014)

The socio-economic determinants of tobacco use

Linda’s thesis focused on the socio economic determinants of tobacco use in the Southern African Customs Union countries, using the Demographic and Health Surveys for the smaller countries and the National Income Dynamic Study for South Africa. She submitted her thesis in February 2014 and graduated in June 2014.  She followed a standard approach (e.g. that of Pampel, 2008) and concluded that the type of tobacco used in the different countries differed significantly. There are also major gender differences.


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Rose Tuyeni Peter (Masters 2016)

 The evaluation of tobacco levies in Botswana

Rose completed her undergraduate and Honours in economics at UCT  and is currently studying towards a Masters in Applied Economics. Her  research topic has yet to be finalised, but at the moment it may involve  the evaluation of tobacco levies in Botswana.



Genesis-159_ppTascha Terblanche (Honours graduate 2011)

The opportunity cost of tobacco use

Tascha completed her Honours degree at UCT in 2011. Her Honours thesis considers the opportunity cost of tobacco, in line with some of the analyses that have been done by Rijo John and others in other countries. Her research finds that smoking households spend relatively more on food, alcohol and entertainment, but less on education, and to a lesser extent, on medical expenditures. The results correspond to some strands of the “discounting literature” which suggests that smokers have a higher discount rate than non-smokers and thus are more interested in the here and now, while non-smokers place a higher premium on the future.

Louis Moussi (Honours gr1-louisaduate 2015)

Louis completed his BCom (Economics and Statistics) at UCT in 2014, and completed his Honours in 2015. In his long paper, he considered determinants of tobacco use among Cameroonian men using the DHS. His results were in line with an established literature that found that poor people tend to have a higher prevalence of smoking. Louis is currently enrolled at UCT doing his Masters in Economics.