To systematically review studies of tobacco industry efforts to influence tax policies.
We conducted searches between 1st October 2009 and 31st March 2010 on 14 databases/websites, in relevant bibliographies and via experts.
We included studies if they: focused on industry efforts to influence tobacco tax policies; drew on empirical evidence; were in English; concerned the period 1985–2010. 36 studies met these criteria.
Two reviewers undertook data extraction and critical appraisal. A random selection of 15 studies (42%) was subject to second review.
We assessed evidence thematically to identify distinct tobacco industry aims, arguments and tactics. 34 studies examined industry efforts to influence tax levels. They suggest industry works hard to prevent significant increases and particularly dislikes taxes ‘earmarked’ for tobacco control. Key arguments to counter increases are that tobacco taxes are socially regressive, unfair and lead to increased levels of illicit trade and negative economic impacts. For earmarked taxes, the industry also frequently tries to raise concerns about revenue allocation. Assessing industry arguments against established evidence demonstrates most are unsupported. Key industry tactics include: establishing ‘front groups’; securing credible allies, direct lobbying; and publicity campaigns. Only seven studies examined efforts to influence tax structures. They suggest company preferences vary and tactics centre on direct lobbying.
The tobacco industry has historically tried to keep tobacco taxes low using consistent tactics and misleading arguments. Further research is required to explore efforts to influence: tax structures; excise policies beyond the US; recent policies.
BackgroundTaxes on alcohol and tobacco have long been an important means of raising revenues for public spending in many countries but there is increasing interest in using taxes on these, and other unhealthy products, to achieve public health goals. We present a systematic review of the research on health taxes, and aim to generate insights into how such taxes can: (i) reduce consumption of targeted products and related harms; (ii) generate revenues for health objectives and distribute the tax burden across income groups in an efficient and equitable manner; and (iii) be made politically sustainable.MethodsSix scientific and four grey-literature databases were searched for empirical studies of ‘health taxes’ – defined as those intended to increase the costs of manufacturing, distributing, retailing and/or consuming health-damaging products. Since reviews already exist of the evidence relating to traditional alcohol and tobacco excise taxes, we focus on other taxes such as taxes on retailers and manufacturers of unhealthy products, and consumer taxes targeting unhealthy foods, such as sugar-sweetened beverages.ResultsNinety-one peer-reviewed and 11 grey-literature studies met our inclusion criteria. The review highlights a recent, rapid rise in research in this area, most of which focuses on high-income countries and on taxes on food products or nutrients. Findings demonstrate that high tax rates on sugar-sweetened beverages are likely to have a positive impact on health behaviours and outcomes, and, while taxes on products reduce demand, they add to fiscal revenues. Common concerns about health taxes are also discussed.ConclusionsIf the primary policy goal of a health tax is to reduce consumption of unhealthy products, then evidence supports the implementation of taxes that increase the price of products by 20% or more. However, where taxes are effective in changing health behaviours, the predictability of the revenue stream is reduced. Hence, policy actors need to be clear about the primary goal of any health tax and frame the tax accordingly – not doing so leaves taxes vulnerable to hostile lobbying. Conversely, earmarking health taxes for health spending tends to increase public support so long as policymakers follow through on specified spending commitments.Systematic review registration number
Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12889-017-4497-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Gary Fooks and colleagues undertook a review of tobacco industry documents and show that policies on corporate social responsibility can enable access to and dialogue with policymakers at the highest level.
This systematic review suggests that there is not yet any clear evidence of the effects of public health partnerships on health outcomes. More appropriately designed and timed studies are required to establish whether, and how, partnerships are effective.
Political scientists are increasingly exhorted to ensure their research has policy 'impact', most notably via Research Excellence Framework (REF) impact case studies, and 'pathways to impact' statements in UK Research Council funding applications. Yet the assumptions underpinning these frameworks often fail to reflect available evidence and theories. Notions of 'impact', 'engagement' and 'knowledge exchange' are typically premised on simplistic, linear models of the policy process, according to which policy-makers are keen to 'utilise' expertise to produce more 'effective' policies. Such accounts overlook the rich body of literature in political science, policy studies, and sociology of knowledge, which offer more complex and nuanced accounts. Drawing on this wider literature, this paper sets out four different approaches to theorising the relationship: (1) knowledge shapes policy; (2) politics shapes knowledge; (3) co-production; and (4) autonomous spheres. We consider what each of these four approaches suggests about approaches to incentivising and measuring research impact.
Katherine Smith and colleagues investigate the ways in which British American Tobacco influenced the European Union Treaty so that new EU policies advance the interests of major corporations, including those that produce products damaging to health.
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