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Under the influence: is the World Trade Organization a forum for industry influence over global alcohol policies? A qualitative analysis of discussions on alcohol health warning labelling, 2010-2019

Barlow, Pepita, Gleeson, Deborah, O'Brien, Paula and Labonte, Ronald (2021) Under the influence: is the World Trade Organization a forum for industry influence over global alcohol policies? A qualitative analysis of discussions on alcohol health warning labelling, 2010-2019. The Lancet Global Health. ISSN 2214-109X (In Press)

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Abstract

Background Accelerating progress to implement effective alcohol policies is necessary to achieve multiple targets within the WHO’s Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol and the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, the alcohol industry’s role in shaping alcohol policy through international avenues, such as trade fora, is poorly understood. We investigate whether the World Trade Organization (WTO) is a forum for alcohol industry influence over alcohol policy. Methods We studied discussions on alcohol health-warning labelling policies at WTO’s Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade from 2010-2019 using written meeting minutes (n=83 documents). We identified instances where WTO members indicated that their statements represented industry. We further developed and applied a taxonomy of industry rhetoric to identify whether WTO member statements advanced arguments made by industry in domestic forums. Findings WTO members made 212 statements on ten alcohol labelling policy proposals. Statements featured many arguments used by industry to stall alcohol policy at the domestic level. They included de-scaling and re-framing the nature and causes of alcohol-related problems, promoting alternative policies such as information campaigns and industry partnerships. WTO members stated that their claims represented industry in 3.3% of statements, whereas 55.2% of statements featured industry arguments. Interpretation WTO discussions on alcohol health-warnings advance arguments used by the alcohol industry in domestic settings to undermine effective alcohol policy. WTO members appear to be influenced by alcohol industry interests, despite a minority of challenges explicitly referencing industry demands. Greater transparency about vested interests may be needed to overcome industry influence

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/langlo/home
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2021 12:24
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2021 14:54
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/112962

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