The Team

The Economics of Tobacco Control Project is housed in the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town (UCT).  It was nominated by the South Africa National Department of Health to establish a Knowledge Hub on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Secretariat. Establishing the Knowledge Hub illustrates South Africa’s support of the WHO’s FCTC, and leadership on tobacco taxation.

Economics of Tobacco Control Project (ETCP)

University of Cape Town (UCT)

South African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU)


Core Team


Prof. Corné van Walbeek

Principal Investigator and Professor, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Corné is currently a Professor at the School of Economics at UCT. His research interests are primarily in the economics of tobacco control, and in particular how changes in the excise tax on tobacco products can affect cigarette consumption. Within this field, his research has focused on the estimation of price elasticities of demand, how excise tax increases impact the poor, changes in smoking by different demographic groups over time, and the industry’s reaction to changes in the tobacco excise tax

Dr. Hana Ross

Principal Research Officer, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Hana received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has over seventeen years’ experience in conducting research on the economics of tobacco control and in management of research projects in low- and middle-income countries. Her current research projects focus on the economic impact of tobacco control interventions in Africa, South East Asia, and in the European Union. She is also interested in the economic impact of risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases such as obesity, lack of physical activity, and alcohol consumption.

Toughedah Jacobs

Programme Director for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade


Toughedah Jacobs is the Programme Director for the WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation. She moved to the ETCP from the Development Policy Research Unit, where she has been the Project Manager for the last 8 years, successfully managing large and complex academic and policy-oriented research programmes. Toughedah obtained her M.Comm in Economics from the University of Cape Town in 2007. She worked at the Western Cape Provincial Treasury before joining the University of Cape Town.

Dr Laura Rossouw

Senior Research Officer, Economics of Tobacco Control Project, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Laura Rossouw is a senior research officer at the Economics of Tobacco Control Project. She holds a PhD in Economics from Stellenbosch University (SU), South Africa. Prior to joining the ETCP, Laura worked at Research on Socio-Economic Policy (ReSEP) based at the Economics Department of SU. The group focuses on issues of poverty, income distribution, social mobility, economic development and social policy. Laura's research interests include the economics of tobacco control, economic evaluations of health interventions, the economic impact of tobacco and alcohol use, demand-side factors related to health, and maternal, infant and child health.

Micheal Kofi Boachie

Postdoctoral Fellow, Economics of Tobacco Control Project, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Micheal is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Economics of Tobacco Control Project, University of Cape Town. He received his BA and MPhil degrees in Economics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and a PhD (Economics) degree from Annamalai University, India. Micheal has research interests in Health Economics and the economics aspects of Tobacco Control.

Sam Filby

Knowledge Hub Webmaster and Research Officer, Economics of Tobacco Control Project, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Sam is currently pursuing a Masters in Economics, specializing in Economic Development at the University of Cape Town. Her research interests include the economics of tobacco control, health economics, and economic policy analysis. Her current research focuses on implementation of the WHO FCTC in South Africa.

Ntombi Mbasa

Operations and Grant Manager, Economics of Tobacco Control Project, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Ntombi Mbasa is the Operations and Grants Coordinator at REEP. Prior to working at REEP, she worked as an Administrative Associate at J-PAL Africa and at EcoPlanet Bamboo SA (Pty) Ltd as an Administrator and Quality Manager. Ntombi has a Bachelor's of Administration (Honors) with a specialization in Public Administration from the University of Pretoria. Ntombi has also completed a short learning program in Risk management from UNISA. She is currently studying her Masters in Development Finance at UCT GSB.

Auxiliary Team


Zunda Chisha

Research Officer and Masters student, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Zunda is a Zambian Masters student with an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Zambia. He spent four years working in the area of malaria control with a focus on surveillance systems in low transmission areas. Currently, he is working part-time with the ETCP project as a Research Officer. He is also working on completing his Masters’ thesis which is focused on inequality in smoking prevalence and its impact on various outcomes in Namibia. His areas of interest include the public health impact of tobacco taxation, understanding the illicit trade of tobacco and the translation of these into policy.

Vanessa Darasamo

Data Clearing House Co-ordinator and PhD student, SALDU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Vanessa Darsamo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Demography from the University of Swaziland and completed a Masters Degree in Development Economics from the University of Cape Town. Vanessa studied the societal costs of methamphetamine use in the Western Cape province in partial fulfilment of the degree in Development Economics. Vanessa is the project coordinator in the Tobacco and Alcohol Data Clearinghouse, which is concerned with collection and dissemination of tobacco and alcohol-related data. Previously, Vanessa worked with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on HIV costing studies with International Research Exchange Board (IREX) on a media strengthening project.

Sharon De Bruyns

Administrator, SALDRU School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Sharon is the administrator of the project. Her functions include: HR, Finance, organising workshops, data cleaning and capturing, and managing the website. Sharon joined our team in June 2013. She has much experience having worked at Old Mutual for 26 years.

Senzo Mthembu

Research Officer, Economics of Tobacco Control Project, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Senzo Mthembu recently joined the Economics of Tobacco Control Project as a Research Officer. Senzo completed his Masters in Commerce, specializing in Economic Science at the University of Cape Town. His Masters thesis analysed the socioeconomic impact of stock volatility in the fishing industry. Senzo's research interests include data quality, socioeconomic issues and labour economics with a focus on inequality, price elasticity and public policy. His current project in ETCP is on the tobacco tax reforms, within the context of promoting economic and human development in West Africa.

Abel Otwori Nyagwachi

Research Officer, Economics of Tobacco Control Project, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Abel Nyagwachi holds a Master of Economics Degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya. He joined the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2015 for his PhD studies. His PhD thesis used household survey data to examine some of the effects of tobacco and alcohol control policies that were implemented in Kenya between 2005 and 2015. His research interests are primarily in public health, international macroeconomics and economics of tobacco and alcohol control.

Kirsten van der Zee

Research Officer, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Kirsten is a Research Officer for the Economics of Tobacco Control Project. She holds a Masters specialising in Applied Economics from the University of Cape Town, where her Masters thesis analyses minimum wages in the South African agricultural sector. She has research experience in development economics with a focus on labour economics, minimum wages, and poverty and inequality analysis. Her current research focuses on the collection of cigarette price data in Africa and tobacco taxation policy in South Africa.

Nicole Vellios

Research Officer, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Nicole holds a Masters of Social Science in Economics (specialising in Economic Development) from UCT. She joined the project as a Masters student in 2011, and after graduating, joined the project full-time. Her Masters level thesis focused on the determinants of smoking initiation in South Africa using the first wave of the National Income Dynamics Study. Her current research interests include the impact of tobacco taxation on public health, the illicit trade of tobacco products, and the determinants of smoking initiation.

Friends of the Knowledge Hub

Ernest Ngeh Tingum

Post-Doc Research Fellow, SALDRU, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Ernest Ngeh Tingum is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. He received a PhD in Economics from the University of Dar es Salaam. During his PhD, he was a researcher with the “Tobacco Control Analysis and Intervention Evaluation in China and Tanzania” team at the Department of Economics. From 2012 to 2015, he was the Lead Specialist for WageIndicator Foundation in Amsterdam and between 2015 and 2016, he was a research fellow at the School of Public Policy, Central European University (CEU), Hungary. He has also worked as an independent consultant with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on issues of youth and women employment in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. His current research focuses on tobacco taxation and its interface with industry reactions and responses, effectiveness of tobacco control policies, illicit trade of tobacco products, labour market issues and collective bargaining in the African labour market. 

Jean Tesche

Special Consultant, Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade, School of Economics, University of Cape Town


Jean Tesche has a PhD in Economics (CGE models, Comparative Econ Systems) from Columbia Business School at Columbia University. She considerable experience in tax policy, administration, and modelling: particularly tobacco tax modelling. She has taught economics in the US, Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and worked with US Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance, the World Bank and the World Health Organization, mostly in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Africa. Jean is a visiting researcher at the University of Cape Town, and joined the Knowledge Hub on Tobacco Taxation and Illicit Trade as a special consultant in early 2019.