Current opportunities

Interested in joining the Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame?

The Centre of Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame is committed to contributing to research training and development of the next generation of public health research leaders.

Current opportunities at University of Queensland (School of Public Health)

We have a range of research topics and short-term projects suitable for Doctor of Philosophy* or Master of Philosophy*, coursework masters (Minimum GPA of 5.5 required), Honours students, Doctor of Medicine, and Bachelor of Health Sciences students.

Examples of research topics include:

1. A global review of tobacco retailing restrictions.

Did you know that you can’t buy cigarettes in supermarkets in Spain? Or that only tobacconists can sell cigarettes in France? Some local governments have also completely banned the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. This project will review laws in Australia and internationally that restrict what types of retailers can sell tobacco products, and analyse the benefits and limitations of these different approaches.

2. Local government involvement in tobacco control

Most Australian tobacco control interventions are implemented at state or federal level but some local governments have developed local laws to control tobacco use within their jurisdiction (e.g. public smoking bans or retailing restrictions). This project will review what activities local governments in Australia and internationally have done related to tobacco control and explore barriers and facilitators. This project is co-supervised with James Farrell (General Manager, Advocacy, Cancer Council Qld).

3. Systematic, Rapid or Scoping Review of Tobacco Endgame Strategies

A number of “tobacco endgame” strategies have been proposed to help end the cigarette epidemic. These include phasing out commercial retail sales or regulating the contents of cigarettes to make them non-addictive or less palatable. This literature review will summarise the evidence for one of these policies. The type of review will be tailored to the topic.

4. Reframing tobacco cigarette regulation as a consumer safety issue

Tobacco cigarettes are a nicotine delivery device, however they are exempt from drugs and poisons regulations and are instead regulated as a consumer product by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC). The ACCC has banned other less risky tobacco products (oral snuff and chewing tobacco), yet allows combustible cigarettes to remain on the market and subject to few product regulations. This project will involve a comparative policy analysis of the regulation of tobacco cigarettes under consumer safety laws to other potentially harmful products. This will involve a review of consumer safety laws and product standards and examples of products that have been banned by government or voluntarily phased out by industry, such as products containing asbestos, leaded petrol, lead paint, or plastics containing BPA.  Depending on whether this project is undertaken as a 4 unit, 8 unit or 16 unit project, the project could also explore public support for government regulation of consumer products for health and safety reasons and discourse on 'government's role in regulating consumer products vs personal responsibility/buyer beware and how this relates to regulation of tobacco cigarettes.

5. Public Support for Regulation of Tobacco, Alcohol and other Drugs

Most non-therapeutic use of psychoactive and/or dependence-inducing substances is illegal. However, tobacco and alcohol remain widespread legal recreational drugs in Australia. While decriminalisation and legalisation of some illicit substances appears to be gaining public support (relaxation of regulation), there is a growing discussion of greater controls on the supply of tobacco, such as ending commercial sales. The project will examine trends in public support for regulation of currently licit and illicit substances and explore how people perceive tobacco and alcohol as similar or different to cannabis, opiates, stimulants and other psychoactive drugs, and how this affects their support for increased regulation of the former or relaxation of regulation on the latter. Depending on whether this project is undertaken as a 4 unit project, an 8 unit masters dissertation or a 16 unit Honours dissertation, the project could consist of a rapid review, systematic review and/or secondary analysis of National Drug Strategy Household Data.

6. Analysis of media coverage of tobacco endgame proposals

This project will analyse media stories and public comments in response to reporting of tobacco endgame policies. These policies range from phasing out cigarette retailing, making them only available on prescription to making cigarettes non-addictive. This project involves qualitative data analysis.

7. The Australian illicit tobacco market

Concerns about an increase in the illicit tobacco market are commonly raised when more intensive tobacco control strategies are discussed, such as high levels of tobacco taxation, ending retail sales or mandating the removal of nicotine from cigarettes. This project involves qualitative data analysis of media stories to examine the trends in reporting of the illicit tobacco market in Australia. Depending on whether this project is undertaken as a 4 unit, 8 unit or 16 unit project, the project could also review government reports on the size of the illicit tobacco market and national survey data on use of illicit tobacco.

8. How does smoking status impact your housing choices?

This project will review public housing policies in Australia and overseas (e.g. the USA). It will also use qualitative data analysis methods to analyse mainstream and social media discussions of smoke-free laws applied to private dwellings, such as public housing. It will also examine smoking restrictions listed in rental advertisements including for shared accommodation.

9. Expansion of Smoke-free laws into contentious spaces

Smoke-free air laws are an important public health strategy to protect the public from the harmful effects of exposure to second-hand smoke. There is strong public support for these laws that have banned smoking in most public indoor spaces in Australia, including workplaces, bars, clubs and restaurants, and on public transport. However, banning smoking in some spaces remains contentious and disputed. These include outdoor spaces, private dwellings, and inside private motor vehicles. This project will conduct a policy analysis of competing rights that are impacted by smoke-free laws and policies applied to these contentious spaces, such as a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of their rental property versus the right of a neighbour in an adjacent unit to clean air and protection against smoke drift. In particular, the project will look at how extension of smoke-free policy into private dwellings could adversely or positively impact people with constrained housing choices (e.g. people living in publicly subsidised housing) and children who live with parents who smoke.

10. The economics of transforming the tobacco and nicotine products market.

Tobacco Endgame approaches include some proposals that seek to disrupt and reorient the existing market for tobacco and nicotine products from one driven by commercial profits to one that is driven by public health outcomes. Furthermore, achieving a tobacco endgame (regardless of which policies are adopted) will have implications for businesses, such as retailers, and governments (tax revenue, policy implementation and enforcement costs, health care savings, increases in aged care costs through increasing life expectancy). Other costs that could be considered include the savings of costs associated with the environmental impact of tobacco products (cigarette butt clean up costs, deforestation associated with tobacco product manufacture, energy consumption from cigarette manufacturing and distribution). This project will look at the economics of changing the tobacco and nicotine product marketplace and make recommendations for governments as to the costs and cost savings of implementing a tobacco endgame and what the likely economic impacts of different policy options would be.

11. Identifying potential consumer responses to tobacco endgame policies.

Tobacco endgame policies are intended to assist people to stop smoking permanently by creating an environment that supports not smoking, and limits commercial opportunities to encourage tobacco purchasing. However, some people will continue to smoke either through personal preference, tobacco addiction, or some combination of the two. This study will examine likely consumer responses to various tobacco endgame policies, such as purchasing illicit products, switching to alternative nicotine products or modifying cigarettes to replace features that are removed through product regulation (e.g. adding nicotine to de-nicotinised cigarettes, adding a home-made filter to cigarettes if filters are banned). This study could use a variety of research methodologies including experimental studies such as an experimental purchasing task to measure consumer preferences.

We also have opportunities for workplace placement students.

To express interest in one of these topics or another topic related to the tobacco endgame, please contact the research operations manager on create@uq.edu.au.

The following should be supplied with your query:

  • Academic CV including relevant skills and experience
  • Academic transcripts of your undergraduate/postgraduate studies
  • Confirmation of current location (are you in Australia?)
  • A statement of interest in the research topic
  • Proposed project preferences and context (e.g. masters project, PhD*, full-time, part-time, intended start date, etc)
  • Preferred participating institution/ lead researcher that you would like to be based with (see the list of our researchers).
  • Citizenship/visa details for Higher Degree Research applicants.

* Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions we are unable to consider any applicants who are not currently located in Australia for PhD or MPhil programs based with our Australian investigators. Please monitor the UQ website for when the next PhD scholarship round will open for off-shore international applicants.

 

Current opportunities with other Tobacco Endgame CRE affiliated institutions

1. Yanhiyanirra (come to one’s assistance) Quit Pack to Support Smoking Cessation among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People who Smoke: a Feasibility Study.

This PhD project at the University of Newcastle, funded by the National Heart Foundation and in partnership with Quitline, will test the feasibility of a flexible and potentially low-cost access to evidence-based smoking cessation care to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people quit smoking. Closes 30 September 2021. More details: https://www.newcastle.edu.au/study/research/phd-scholarships/phd-scholarships/yanhiyanirra-come-to-ones-assistance-quit-pack-to-support-smoking-cessation-among-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-people-who-smoke-a-feasibility-study. 

2. Causal inference analyses of existing data, especially longitudinal data.  

This PhD project at the University of Melbourne will use repeated measures on participants in ITC Project (International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project) surveys to determine ‘causes’ for people to take up vaping. Methods used here will blend contemporary counterfactual approaches to epidemiology (e.g. G-computation, marginal structural models, causal mediation analysis), blended with econometrics.

3. Simulation modelling of future health gains and costs of tobacco control interventions.  

This PhD project at the University of Melbourne builds simulation models to answer questions about the potential impact of various population wide interventions for different groups and equity impacts. For example, are tobacco taxes inequality widening or narrowing between socioeconomic groups and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Aboriginal people? Methods used for this project will include processes to select, conceptualize and specify interventions, rapid reviews, simulation modelling (e.g. using our proportional multistate lifetable), and policy engagement.