Economic & health impact evidence synthesis to inform policy and practice decisions

The SPECTRUM consortium is a multi-university, multi-agency research consortium focused on the commercial determinants of health and health inequalities funded by the UK Prevention Research Partnership. SPECTRUM is generating new evidence to inform the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) caused by unhealthy commodities, including tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy food and drink.

Consortium webpage:

Project page on the SARG website:

The STAPM platform is being used to develop new economic and health impact evidence, modelling and analysis in work package 4 of SPECTRUM.

Objectives of SPECTRUM work package 4

  • Develop new economic evidence on the impacts of alcohol and tobacco, their associated diseases, and prevention policies - including:

    • Consumers’ work productivity, employment and early retirement
    • Revenue to retailers
    • Gains and losses in different sectors of the UK economy
    • Direct and indirect tax revenues to government
    • Public sector costs from healthcare, social care and crime

  • Develop and extend the STAPM platform to produce modelling that covers England, Wales and Scotland

  • Undertake translational work with collaborators in food systems to explore how economic methods in alcohol and tobacco could be of use in complex food systems modelling

Areas of work within SPECTRUM work package 4

Below are the main areas of work being undertaken as part of the SPECTRUM consortium. Where specific project outputs from these areas of work, they are listed separately on the Projects page.

Review of methods

Review, critical appraisal and categorisation of existing methods used to examine the wider economic impacts of tobacco and alcohol policy. Drawing on both academic and grey literature - including industry funded reports, which make claims about the importance of tobacco and alcohol to the economy.

Workplace outcomes

Undertake micro-econometric longitudinal analyses of datasets containing both health and work variables (Health Survey for England, Understanding Society, and Labour Force Survey). Examining the relationship between changes in the prevalence of alcohol- and smoking-related conditions, and changes in workplace outcomes – including gross pay per week, hours worked, absences from work due to sickness, retirement and early retirement, unemployment and economic inactivity, and claiming income support.

Input-output modelling

Develop input-output modelling to understand interactions between different sectors of the economy in terms of the impact of changes in tobacco or alcohol consumption. For example, sectors supplying goods/services to unhealthy commodity producers could experience reduced economic activity, while savings (e.g. healthcare) could divert to other sectors, which therefore experience growth. This approach has recently been applied in the alcohol sector, looking at the net redistribution effects of price increases – including on tax incomes and government expenditures, rather than just focusing on effects within a supply-related industries (which some industry funded studies have done). We propose to extend this approach to joint modelling of both alcohol and tobacco industry impacts.

Policy and scenario modelling

Integrate the STAPM economic analysis with evidence from the other SPECTRUM work packages to undertake retrospective policy evaluation, and prospective policy appraisal and scenario analyses from an economic perspective, with a focus on the impact of unhealthy commodity provider activities intended to defeat or delay regulation or policy implementation.

Link to food systems

Build on existing collaborations (including the NIHR School for Public Health Research), to undertake translational work linking the STAPM methods to complex systems modelling in food systems.

STAPM projects conducted with SPECTRUM funding

Research projects

Knowledge exchange projects

Funding acknowledgements

Project that have been supported by funding from the SPECTRUM consortium should include the following acknowledgement:

“This work has been supported by SPECTRUM, a UK Prevention Research Partnership Consortium (MR/S037519/1), which is funded by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research, Natural Environment Research Council, Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), The Health Foundation and Wellcome.”