Trade-Related Challenges to Tobacco Control in Southeast Asia

Despite progress in implementing tobacco control policies, trade liberalization has significantly increased tobacco consumption among women and children in some Asian countries. It has also reduced advertising restrictions. This project will evaluate the threats to developing and implementing tobacco control policies as a result of free trade and investment provisions in Southeast Asian countries. It will also assess options for potential reform.

The tobacco industry is increasingly using trade and investment agreements to challenge the most advanced tobacco control measures in Southeast Asia. This includes measures adopted under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

This research aims to analyze the threats to developing and implementing tobacco control policies and to assess options for potential reform.

Specific objectives include:

  • document the threats to tobacco control policy created by upcoming and existing international trade and investment agreements;
  • identify and analyze potential solutions needed to ensure policies are aligned and coherent;
  • consult trade negotiations and tobacco control policy stakeholders to assess potential reform roadblocks; and,
  • analyze the dynamics in two countries that are likely to take steps to promote coherent policies.

The researchers will review international trade and investment laws and local laws. They will assess the trade-related barriers to tobacco control policies from a legal standpoint. They plan to hold discussions with potential users through a regional consultation involving ASEAN member countries (Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam), targeting trade and health ministries, along with public health advocates.

In-country researchers from two selected countries will analyze the feasibility of options based on local laws and context. They will conduct focus groups and identify themes and trends that shed light on the political dynamics that play a role in policy reform.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

End Date

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


18 months

IDRC Officer

Beeche, Arlyne

Total funding

CA$ 442,500


Central Asia, Far East Asia, South Asia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Bungon Ritthiphakdee


Smoke Free Southeast Asia Foundation

Institution Country


Institution Website