Examining the power of the alcohol and tobacco industries in policymaking: Lessons and challenges for the Philippines and Singapore
Aims: Transnational alcohol and tobacco corporations are expanding operations in Southeast Asia. This study has two objectives: to examine the power of the tobacco and alcohol industries in shaping tobacco and alcohol policies in the Philippines and Singapore, and to identify key lessons and challenges for alcohol and tobacco control.
Methods: We developed a conceptual framework from the literature on power and political, commercial, and legal determinants of health. We conducted a literature review and content analysis of official government documents, corporate documents, and news articles on the tactics of the alcohol and tobacco industries. To triangulate findings, we also conducted a thematic analysis of 30 interviews that we conducted in the Philippines and Singapore.
Findings: Transnational and national alcohol and tobacco corporations used various tactics to influence the policy process for alcohol and tobacco control in the Philippines and Singapore. These industries utilised lobbying, litigation or threat of litigation, revolving doors, and marketing to exercise their instrumental power. They exercised their structural power by exploiting their market dominance and promoting public-private partnerships and alcohol marketing self-regulation. In the Philippines, the tobacco industry benefitted from regulatory capture. Both industries tapped framing tactics, corporate social responsibility, and public-private partnerships to exert their discursive power.
Conclusions: Our study detailed how the alcohol and tobacco industries have exercised their instrumental, structural, and discursive power to influence and interfere in alcohol and tobacco control policies in the Philippines and Singapore. Less regulated, the alcohol industry retains an advantage over the tobacco industry in both countries.
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