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Research funding for addressing tobacco related disease: an analysis of UK investment between 2008 and 2012

Hall, Mary; Bogdanovica, Ilze; Britton, John


Mary Hall

John Britton


Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the UK. However research spending on tobacco related disease, and particularly smoking prevention, is thought to be low. We therefore aimed to assess the relation between tobacco-related research investment and disease burden from 2008 to 2012.

Methods: We used the Health Research Classification System to classify UK government and charitable research funding by broad health category and then by tobacco prevention research and 18 World Health Organisation defined tobacco related diseases. We used UK mortality figures to calculate disease specific tobacco attributable deaths and then compared disease specific and tobacco prevention research investment with all cause and tobacco attributable mortality over the five year period and as annual averages.

Results: 12,922 research grants were identified with a total value of £6.69bn, an annual average of £1.34bn. Annually an average of 110,000 people die from tobacco related disease, approximately 20% of total deaths. £130m is invested in researching tobacco related disease each year and £5m on tobacco prevention, 10.8% and 0.42% of total annual research funding respectively. Prevention research equated to an annual average of £46 per tobacco attributable death or one pound for every £29 spent on tobacco related disease. Funding varied widely for diseases with different numbers of deaths (eg lung cancer £68 per all cause death, cervical cancer £2,500), similar numbers of deaths (leukaemia £983 per death, stomach cancer £43) or similar numbers of tobacco attributable deaths (eg colorectal cancer £5k, pancreatic cancer £670, bladder cancer £340).

Conclusions: Tobacco related research funding is not related to burden of disease or level of risk. As a result certain diseases receive a disproportionately low level of research funding and disease prevention funding is even lower.


Hall, M., Bogdanovica, I., & Britton, J. (2016). Research funding for addressing tobacco related disease: an analysis of UK investment between 2008 and 2012. BMJ Open, 6(7), 1-8.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 25, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2016
Publication Date Jul 4, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 4, 2016
Journal BMJ Open
Electronic ISSN 2044-6055
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 6
Issue 7
Article Number e011609
Pages 1-8
Keywords Research; Funding; Priority; Setting; Prevention
Public URL
Publisher URL


BMJ Open-2016-Hall-.pdf (1.1 Mb)

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