Advancing Tobacco Control in Zambia: The TCDI Website

December 14, 2022 Health Development Gateway
Launch, Program

In response to the impending threat of tobacco use in Zambia and the various dangers that accompany it, the Tobacco Control Data Initiative website creates a “one-stop shop” to access the relevant data that Zambia’s policymakers need to advance tobacco control legislation.

December 14, Lusaka, Zambia – Since 2019, Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG) has collaborated with University of Cape Town’s Research Unit on the Economics of Excisable Products (REEP) to address barriers to data use in tobacco control by consolidating available and trusted tobacco control data, identifying and filling data gaps, and creating an online resource for policymakers to access the relevant data needed to pass and monitor tobacco control legislation. These findings have come together through the Tobacco Control Data Initiative (TCDI), which is supported in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented in Zambia in addition to South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 


More than 7,000 Zambians die every year as a result of using tobacco, and 60% of these individuals are below 70 years of age (MOH. “Investment Case For Tobacco Control in Zambia: The Case for Investing in WHO FCTC Implementation.” 2019). Tobacco consumption is decreasing  throughout the world; however, the largest expected increase of smokers is expected to occur in Africa (Africa’s Tobacco Epidemic, Tobacco Tactics, 2020). This is particularly alarming, because tobacco control data in Zambia is scarce and incomprehensive with minimal disaggregation. 

Although tobacco control data exist, the data is usually only available in disparate sources (i.e., individual agencies, research institutions, private sector companies, or civil society organizations) and some data is not easily accessible. These factors present a challenge for tobacco control legislation. Strong tobacco control measures are needed to ensure that smoking rates do not increase. 

Through their research, the TCDI team identified common themes in the data landscape. These relate to concerns about data accuracy, comparability, timeliness, and accessibility. As a result, the TCDI team understands the data needs and gaps, has identified existing data, and developed the TCDI Zambia website that enables decision-makers to use essential data to inform tobacco control policy more effectively. 


Although tobacco control data sources exists, the data is usually only available in silos and not easily accessible. Therefore, availability of tobacco control related information remains key when it comes to lobbying and advocating for the enactment of the tobacco control bill among others.

Hon Sylvia T. Masebo, MP Zambia's Minister of Health

The Zambia Website 

Together, partners co-designed a publicly available website ( that aims to address key decision-making needs. The website equips stakeholders in government, civil society, academia, and the general public with reliable and up-to-date evidence to promote tobacco control and public health. It draws on both primary and secondary data sources and presents tobacco control information in user-friendly formats such as graphs, infographics, myths and facts, and success stories. The website will feature five themes: tobacco prevalence, tobacco harm, illicit trade, taxation, and industry interference. The website will be updated with new information as this becomes available over the course of the program.

The introduction of the Tobacco Control Data Initiative is a welcome development whose timing is right for this country. The World Health Organization Zambia commends Development Gateway for developing the Tobacco Control Data Initiative which will be a critical data source for monitoring the tobacco epidemic and other parameters. The Data Initiative will enable policymakers and the general public to use essential data more effectively to inform policy. TCDI would fill in the data gap in tobacco control that would enable legislators and decision-makers use correct data to inform public health policies. Zambia needs a comprehensive tobacco control law and the time is now!

Agatha Shula National Professional Officer Responsible for Tobacco Control at World Health Organization Zambia

The Development Process

Before creating the TCDI Zambia website, the TCDI team assessed the existing data and stakeholder needs through hour-long interviews with key members of the tobacco control community. The learnings from the assessment were validated with stakeholders during a workshop in February 2022  before technical development proceeded. The website was created through an agile, co-design process in close consultation with key tobacco control stakeholders in Zambia, including Zambia’s Ministry of Health. (Find the full list of our stakeholders and partners here.) Initial mockups and website designs were shared back with stakeholders for their input and suggestions. As a final step before launching the site, user feedback sessions were led in November 2022. 

About the Partners

Development Gateway: an IREX Venture (DG)
Development Gateway: an IREX Venture provides data and digital solutions for international development. DG creates tools that help institutions collect and analyze information; strengthen the institutional capacity to use data; and explore what processes are needed to enable evidence-based decisions. A mission-driven nonprofit since 2000 with staff based in five global hubs and around the world, DG supports the use of data, technology, and evidence to create more effective, open, and engaging institutions. More at

Ministry of Health, Zambia (MOH)
The Ministry aims to provide effective quality healthcare services close to the family as possible. This ensures equity of access to health service delivery and contributes to human and socioeconomic development. The ministry also targets to attain Sustainable Development Goals on health and other national health priorities. More at

Other Partners



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