Research Spotlights - Current

Each month the IRMACS Centre is proud to feature novel research being conducted at the centre. We call this "Research Spotlights".

Tobacco Companies, Public Policy and Global Health

This project aims to strengthen tobacco control policies by generating new knowledge of how the tobacco industry has adapted to and, in turn, shaped the global economy. 

While stronger tobacco control measures have begun to be adopted by many countries, supported by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, effective regulation of the tobacco industry at the national, regional and global levels has become more difficult to advance amid ongoing processes of globalization. This research aims to understand the dual and dynamic relationship between the tobacco industry and globalization. This project aims to strengthen tobacco control policies by generating new knowledge of how the tobacco industry has adapted to and, in turn, shaped the global economy. 

Building on Phases I and II, it analyses how the industry has been affected by, and has adapted to, economic globalization; and conversely, how the global economy has been shaped by industry influences. This is achieved by focusing on four key themes: (a) how the tobacco industry has sought to influence trade and investment policy at the national, regional and global levels, and how this has benefitted industry strategies to restructure and expand worldwide; (b) how the illicit tobacco trade has been a key component of broader corporate strategies to adapt to, shape and operate within an increasingly global economy; (c) how tobacco companies have restructured to further their interests within a global economy; and (d) how corporations should be governed within a global economy to ensure the protection and promotion of population health. Each theme will produce new analysis of strategically important activities, geographies, institutions and strategies. 

Carried out by a highly experienced and multi-disciplinary project team, and supported by an Advisory Committee of leading international experts, the research will combine document-based research with key informant interviews. Document research will use on-line and on-site internal industry document collections that continue to grow in size and scope. This will be supplemented by customs records, trade/investment data, industry websites and grey literature. Key informant interviews will draw on the research team's worldwide network of contacts. Overall, the proposed research will conduct groundbreaking new research for meeting the public health challenges against tobacco-related diseases within an evolving global economy. This project is an international collaboration with University of York (UK), Macquarie University (Australia), San Diego State University (USA) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK).

About Kelley Lee

Dr. Lee is trained in International Relations and Public Administration with a focus on international political economy. She spent over twenty years at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she remains Honorary Professor of Global Health Policy, initially analyzing the role of the UN in health.  She was a core member of two major donor-led studies on WHO reform during the 1990s.  She co-established the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Change and Health, and chaired the WHO Resource Group on Globalization, Trade and Health.  Dr Lee also co-led a major international initiative to secure public access to tobacco industry documents, as well as analyze their contents in relation to the globalization of the tobacco industry.  She has authored around 90 scholarly papers, 50 book chapters and 10 books including Globalization and Health, An introduction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), The World Health Organization (Routledge, 2008), Global Health and International Relations (Polity Press with Colin McInnes, 2012), and Asia’s Role in Governing Global Health (Routledge edited with Tikki Pang and Yeling Tan, 2012).  She joined the Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University in 2011 as Associate Dean, Research and Director of Global Health.  She is an Associate Fellow of the Centre on Global Health Security, Chatham House, London; Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians; and Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

Professor Lee‘s research focuses on the impacts of globalization on communicable and non-communicable diseases (notably tobacco-related diseases), and the implications for strengthening global governance.  Her research has been funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Cancer Research UK, European Research Council, Health Canada, Nuffield Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, UK Economic and Social Research Council, UN Population Fund, US National Institutes of Health, Wellcome Trust, World Health Organization and various donor governments.