ASTRA is a world-class, international and interdisciplinary group, aiming to reduce the substantial burden of disease caused by smokeless tobacco. Smokeless tobacco is responsible for thousands of deaths per year, but has so far been neglected in policy and research. ASTRA’s international teams will carry out policy research and develop interventions to address the problems caused by smokeless tobacco use in South Asia. Our focus is on Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, where 80% of the world’s 300 million smokeless tobacco users live, and where the most harmful types of smokeless tobacco are favoured. ASTRA is a three-year programme, with a budget of £2M. Dr Subhash Pokhrel and Ms Kathryn Coyle from Health Economics Theme are leading Economics study within ASTRA with an aim to quantify the healthcare costs of smokeless tobacco use in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
Aims of ASTRA:
- To gather evidence about how the policies recommended by the WHO-FCTC are being developed and implemented for smokeless tobacco in LMICs. This part of the programme will focus on young people, since 90% of ST users start their habit during adolescence.
- To develop and evaluate interventions, such as behavioural support or medicines, to help adult ST users to quit.
- To build capacity, by training research teams at LMIC institutions to conduct high quality applied health research in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.
- To use this capacity to support wider tobacco control efforts in the South Asia region.