Analysis of Alcohol Industry Submissions against Marketing Regulation
A growing body of literature points to the role of vested interests as a barrier to the implementation of effective public health policies. Corporate political activity by the alcohol industry is commonly used to influence policy and regulation. It is important for policy makers to be able to critique alcohol industry claims opposed to improved alcohol marketing regulation.
The Australian National Preventive Health Agency reviewed alcohol marketing regulations in 2012 and stakeholders were invited to comment on them.
In this study the researchers used thematic analysis to examine submissions from the Australian alcohol industry, based on a system previously developed in relation to tobacco industry corporate political activity.
The results show that submissions were a direct lobbying tactic, making claims to government that were contrary to the evidence-base.
Five main frames were identified, in which the alcohol industry claimed that increased regulation:
- is unnecessary;
- is not backed up by sufficient evidence;
- will lead to unintended negative consequences; and
- faces legal barriers to implementation; underpinned by the view
- that the industry consists of socially responsible companies working toward reducing harmful alcohol use.
In contrast with tobacco industry submissions on public policy, which often focused on legal and economic barriers, the Australian alcohol industry placed a heavier emphasis on notions of regulatory redundancy and insufficient evidence. This may reflect differences in where these industries sit on the ‘regulatory pyramid’, alcohol being less regulated than tobacco.