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18-19 Special Category


Advancing Global Progress to End Smoking & to Reduce the Impacts of Smoking Decline on Tobacco-Dependent Economies

The negative impacts of smoking are well-known, and its global decline will result in many positive health outcomes worldwide. But, there are negative consequences for low-income countries that depend on tobacco farming as a thriving industry. FSFW’s mission is to eliminate cigarette smoking worldwide and to mobilize support for people who are disproportionately burdened by the rapid transition away from combustible tobacco. Here’s where YOU can make a difference. The Conrad Challenge is proud to partner with Foundation for a Smoke-Free World to create a special category for the 2018–2019 competition.

Request for Proposals of Innovative Solutions to Address
Three Key Problems in Three Countries

Problem Areas

  • Rise of youth vaping

  • Economic threat to smallholder tobacco farmers due to a decline in tobacco demand

  • High bidi use and production

Countries Where Solutions Are Needed:

United States

Vaping is a new pop-culture trend that is sweeping middle and high schools across the country. Vaping allows users of e-cigarettes or vape pens to inhale nicotine in the form of vapor. These nicotine-delivery devices offer a range of flavors that make them increasingly attractive to youth. Like traditional cigarettes, these devices can have lasting deleterious consequences on the developing brain and cause other morbidities.

To avoid a public health crisis in this generation, we challenge you to develop behavioral, social, and technological innovations – physical and online ­– that prevent vaping among American teens. These efforts will complement efforts to prevent smoking conventional cigarettes among youth.

Recent articles framing the issue

Brainstorming ideas


Ending smoking worldwide will save lives, but a reduced global demand for tobacco could bring devastating consequences to smallholder tobacco farmers, many of whom are economically dependent on tobacco as their livelihood crop. This means the livelihoods of many Malawi smallholder farmers are particularly vulnerable to this projected sharp decline in the demand for tobacco.

We’re looking to you to develop 21st century agricultural technology and business solutions to help these smallholder tobacco farmers transition to profitable alternative livelihoods.

Here are just a few recent articles and product examples surrounding this issue

Brainstorming ideas


Bidi – a hand-rolled cigarette traditionally produced by women and children in their homes across rural India – is the preferred tobacco product of more than 100 million Indian smokers because of its affordability and accessibility. Bidi consumption is approximately nine times that of conventional cigarette consumption. The nicotine and tar in bidis is more concentrated than in conventional cigarettes, and could thus be more harmful to people who smoke them. Bidis pose a massive and largely unaddressed threat to public health in India.

We are seeking innovative, low-cost business and technology solutions to help reduce bidi consumption, especially among vulnerable populations susceptible to the adverse health effects of both bidi use and production.

Here are just a few recent articles and product examples surrounding this issue


Brainstorming idea

Don't miss your chance to join this revolution! This special category gives you a seat at the table to help FSFW determine which alternatives are the most viable to addressing all three challenges. In the future, FSFW plans to bring together private, development and public players to invest in pilot solutions.  


  • While this special category has problems targeted to different countries, any team from any country can target any of the problem areas. For example, a team from India can choose to address U.S. teen vaping as outlined above.

  • The Smoke-Free World category will follow all of the traditional guidelines for all three rounds of the Conrad Challenge and will adhere to the same Challenge deadlines.

  • Teams entering ONLY the Smoke-Free World are subject to the full competition fee of $300.

  • Teams who are already registered in another category of the Conrad Challenge are encouraged to enter this special category. Teams entering in multiple categories must submit a registration form for each category. However, teams entering in two categories will receive a discount of $150 for the second category.

  • Smoke-Free World will be judged with the same criteria and a Pete Conrad Scholar will be selected within this category. Smoke-Free World will also have special judges from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World with the potential for additional prizes and awards.

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The Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (FSFW) is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 2017. It funds research, promotes innovation, and supports collaborative initiatives to accelerate progress in reducing harm and deaths from smoking worldwide. The purpose of FSFW is to end smoking in this generation. FSFW’s areas of focus include smoking cessation and harm reduction, as supported by new technologies, therapies, alternative products, behavioral science, and other approaches. FSFW employs and promotes a human-centered approach to problem-solving. It builds tailored strategies that address the unique challenges faced by smokers and vulnerable populations affected by the elimination of the use of cigarettes and other forms of combustible tobacco. It is guided by an evidence-based research philosophy grounded in gender sensitivity and multiculturalism.