Tobacco Research

The latest updates from the University of Bath's Tobacco Control Research Group

Topic: Industry tactics

Plain packaging opposition in the UK

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📥  Industry tactics

Australian_packs

A public consultation aimed to help the government gather evidence on the potential impacts of plain packaging ran between the 16th April 2012 and the 10th August 2012.

In response to this consultation, the tobacco industry and its allies launched what appears to be coordinated anti-plain packaging campaigns.

A Short History of Plain Packaging illustrates that the tobacco industry has been working on a defence strategy against the threat of plain packaging since the 1990s. In 2010, industry analyst Citigroup noted that plain packaging is the “biggest regulatory threat to the industry, as packaging is the most important way tobacco companies have to communicate with the consumer and differentiate their products.”  Therefore, it's unsurprising that there has been such a strong response from the tobacco industry.

Tobacco companies’ political advertising

Tobacco companies such as British American Tobacco (BAT), Imperial Tobacco, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International (PMI) have publicised their views on plain packaging on their corporate websites, including their arguments against plain packaging (e.g. encourages illicit trade, trade mark infringement etc). BAT have included such arguments in two emotive adverts.

Imperial and JTI, who in 2011 collectively held just over eighty per cent of the UK cigarette market share, have also engaged in Corporate Political Advertising to influence both the views of ‘government and of decision makers’. For example, a You Tube ad called 'Britain - 2020 Vision', which misleadingly suggests that in the future all perceived unhealthy products could be sold in plain packaging, has a small disclaimer saying that it was funded by Imperial Tobacco.

The 2020 Vision ad has been promoted on leaflets distributed on petrol forecourts, with the message ‘Say NO to plain packs’. These leaflets are not openly attributable to any organisation. (see images 1 and 2).

300px-Imperial_say_no_1

Image 1

Image 2

Image 2

Imperial Tobacco has also used Corporate Political Advertising in an attempt to influence UK Members of Parliament (MPs) views on plain packaging. The company funded an advertisement in ‘The House’ magazine (a weekly political magazine delivered directly to MPs, Peers, and civil servants). The advert mimicked the possible plain packackaging for cigarettes  by covering the normal cover pages in dark brown/gold paper and a warning message which read, “WARNING Plain Packaging: Bad for business Good for Criminals”.  The double spread cover page did not disclose it was an Imperial Tobacco anti-plain packaging advertising campaign. However on page 19 of the magazine, a second gold coloured full-page advert claimed that plain packaging would not benefit wholesalers, consumers, business, retailers or the government, but would only benefit criminals. This advert featured the logo of Asian Trader, a trade magazine and, in a smaller font than the rest of the text, at the bottom of the page explained: “This advert has been produced and placed by Imperial Tobacco in association with Asian Trader magazine.”

Furthermore, approximately 24-hours after the British government announced a four-week extension to the consultation on standardised packaging, JTI launched a campaign costing £2 million to “share its views” on the potential outcomes of plain packaging legislation. The campaign is centred on print adverts in national newspapers. According to JTI, this amount of spending is to ensure a wide reach of its messages to JTI’s target audience, “both government and decision makers”.  In July 2012, these ads were included in a number of daily newspapers including The Financial Times (see Image 3).

Front group anti-plain packaging campaigns

Pro-smoking group Forest, which receives funding from tobacco companies, runs the Hands Off Our Packs campaign which argues that plain packaging is the nanny state gone too far. The campaign is run by Angela Harbutt of Liberal Vision.

The Hands Off Our Packs campaign, which has a dedicated website, a Twitter and a Facebook account, has produced anti-plain packaging literature, You Tube ads (featuring retailers),and provides guidance on how to respond to the consultation in support of the continued branding of tobacco products. The website includes a petition to register one’s opposition to plain packaging. Visitors to the website are also encouraged to distribute leaflets and promote the campaign online via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

Speaking to the Grocer Magazine in February 2012, Simon Clark, Director of Forest, said that the Hands Off Our Packs campaign "was a response to the Plain Packs Protect campaign launched last month by an alliance of anti-tobacco groups". However, Clark registered the handsoffourpacks.com website back in September 2011, indicating that Forest may have planned this campaign long before the Plain Packs Protect campaign was launched in January 2012.

Retailers have been a particular campaign target of industry front groups. Mobilising retailer support to oppose tobacco control measures is a well-documented industry tactic and a prime example of how the industry uses front groups to promote their agenda. For example, the Tobacco Retailers Alliance (TRA), a coalition of retailers that sell tobacco products, was set up by the tobacco industry to promote its own viewpoint but with the explicit intention that it would appear separate from the tobacco industry. When the Tobacco Alliance (which later became the TRA) was established the industry stated that it “would encourage its supporters to act either as individuals or as representatives of their own organisations” in order to appear as a separate entity to the industry. It was also “stressed that the Alliance was needed because in order to be heard the entire tobacco family must speak with a unified voice and with confident command of the facts…”

In 1983, Tony St Aubyn, the then assistant director of the Public Relations subcommittee of the Tobacco Advisory Council stated in a workshop detailing how to set up a tobacco alliance that “Early on we decided that it would be preferable to keep the Alliance at arm’s length from TAC Tobacco Advisory Council, the predecessor to the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association and the industry and with its own identity and address, to emphasize to supporters, as far as is practical, that it had a degree of independence. Thus while the industry determines policy and provides the funds, the day to day management is the responsibility of our PR agents Daniel J Edelman."

Since the launch of the public consultation on plain packaging in April 2012, retail magazines such as the Grocer and Retail Newsagent have consistently featured opposition messages to plain packaging. They have also highlighted campaigns such as the ‘plain packaging postcard campaign’ run by the TRA (funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association) which claims that plain packaging would have a negative impact on business and encourages retailers to ‘have your say’ in response to the government’s consultation. In July 2012, the TRA reported that 30,000 retailers had so far signed postcards, demonstrating how public consultations on tobacco control measures can be flooded with industry influenced opinion.

For full references on this article, please visit  TobaccoTactics.org

 

Links between political influence and corporate social responsibility uncovered

  , ,

📥  Industry tactics

Until now, how corporate social responsibility (CSR) works to secure access to public and elected officials has remained a mystery. For the first time researchers at the University of Bath have been able to explore this question using internal British American Tobacco (BAT) documents to look at how the company used CSR to re-establish access with the UK Department of Health following its decision to restrict contact with major tobacco companies and then shape the agenda of subsequent meetings. In the event, Department of Health officials blocked BAT’s attempts to change the course of tobacco control policy.

The British government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal shows clearly the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for large corporations wishing to securing political influence. It suggests that political CSR is being used effectively by companies in the food and alcohol sectors to provide an ostensibly robust case for voluntary regulation and free them of any concerns they may have about working in partnership with big corporations.

Our study found that CSR facilitates government access by focusing discussions on the importance of cooperation and consensus. Companies can convey the sense that they are offering support for government health policies by linking their political priorities to widely accepted social and political values. BAT linked its preferred policies to politically salient values such as harm reduction, child health, and the importance of cooperation between business and government. This enabled BAT employees to represent their dialogue as benign and unlikely to compromise government policy on tobacco control. Once the company had secured access to health officials, it then tried to use CSR to influence their priorities. It encouraged them to take notice of alternative modes of (voluntary) regulation, and revise their concerns about whether the industry could be trusted to work in partnership.

Gary Fooks, Research Fellow at the Tobacco Control Research Group said,

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that big corporations are using CSR to pre-empt legislation and generally influence public policy, but we don’t really know much about how CSR works to produce these effects. Our study provides grist to the idea that the constructive veneer that CSR gives to corporate lobbying – particularly its seductive appeal to values such as partnership and co-operation - makes proposals which are not in the public interest appear less threatening, good for everyone and, therefore, easier to swallow for policymakers. Whilst this isn’t such a problem where officials have a strong sense of the public interest and are knowledgeable and sceptical of the intentions of corporate lobbyists, it’s likely to be a big problem where they don’t adequately consider the differences between corporate interests and those of the broader electorate.”

Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group said,

“Our study underlines corporations’ increasing use of CSR for political ends. One of the brilliant things about research based on previous confidential industry documents is that we get quite a frank portrait of what companies are doing and why. The problem with contemporary government CSR-based initiatives, such as the Public Health Responsibility Deal, is that what’s going on is quite opaque to public scrutiny. This needs to be corrected. There’s some interesting work being done by NGOs but it’s just not enough. Governments across Europe need to be a lot more transparent in their dealings with multinational companies which look set to have an increasing impact on global health.”

“The international presence of BAT and its promotion of CSR across its subsidiaries suggest that the problems we’ve identified are likely to be widespread. What’s particularly worrying is that government departments across the world are opening themselves up to corporate social responsibility, expanding the number of access points and providing a very porous policy environment for these sorts of political strategies.”

The Story in Brief

Historically, BAT had enjoyed privileged access to policymakers and was regularly consulted on plans for new government policy. However, during the 1990s, its relationship with the British Government steadily deteriorated. By the end of the decade senior BAT managers were expressing increasing concerns about the company’s declining political influence which culminated in the Department of Health’s refusal to meet with members of the company. Martin Broughton (BAT’s chair between 1998 and 2004) described the relationship as a “Mexican stand-off” which had potentially serious ramifications for its ability to manage the impact of EU enlargement on its business in Eastern Europe.

BAT concluded that its ability to project itself as a good corporate citizen was key to its ability to normalise relations with the Department. Its platform for engagement was its Partnership for Change Programme (see below) – the blueprint for its current CSR programme. After trying unsuccessfully to persuade Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, to work in partnership, Broughton went over Milburn’s head and lobbied Tony Blair to use his influence to encourage a more conciliatory approach from the Department of Health. Whilst rejecting BAT’s arguments on a number of other issues, Blair gave Broughton the green light to talk to Department of Health officials about Partnership for Change.

Having been granted access, BAT employees used CSR initiatives and themes to set the agenda of discussions with health officials and encourage a continuing dialogue. According to BAT documents the content of meetings that subsequently took place closely mapped the themes BAT officials wanted discussed. BAT documents from the time are consistent with BAT using CSR initiatives strategically to influence the policy alternatives under discussion within the Department of Health. More recent evidence in the public domain suggests that BAT’s use of CSR as an agenda setting tool is ongoing.

Notes

British American Tobacco: British American Tobacco is the second largest tobacco company (by profitability) after Philip Morris International. Its CSR programme has been steadily accepted and approved by large parts of the investment and CSR communities. Senior employees are now frequently invited to speak at public engagements on CSR and business ethics and the company has won numerous awards for its CSRP.

British American Tobacco’s Partnership for Change Programme: BAT’s Partnership for Change programme covered a number of key areas such as voluntary marketing codes, youth smoking initiatives, accommodation of smokers and non-smokers, and reduced risk cigarettes. BAT also used the programme as an organising platform to frame its CSR initiatives in the early 2000s. By emphasising the value to public health of meetings between tobacco companies, government officials, and public health groups in the form of summits and forums the initiative was well designed to generate dialogue with the Department of Health.

Public Health Responsibility Deal: Companies from the food and alcohol sectors are currently enjoying greater success in influencing public health policy in the UK through the government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. The Deal encompasses five cross-sectoral networks established to drive forward improvements in public health. At the time of writing, corporations and business organisations outnumbered non-business organisations and individuals (academics, nongovernmental organisations, representatives of public institutions) two to one in the food and alcohol networks that are responsible for setting immediate public health objectives in these areas. By devolving policy formation and delivery to companies whose products and marketing practices constitute the key proximate drivers of alcohol- and diet-related ill health and mortality this marks a potentially important shift in public health policy towards coregulation. The organising principles of the Deal draw heavily on the idea that CSR can be exploited to promote public health. Further, devised when the Conservative Party were in opposition, the existence of the Deal owes much to the success that large food and drink companies had in using CSR as a means of both gaining access to senior Conservative Party members and developing an alternative agenda for public health policy, which attempts to reconcile public health with business competitiveness. Our findings—and the absence of strong evidence suggesting that co regulation is capable of aligning the business models of big food and drinks companies with the demands of public health —suggest that the role of CSR in the Deal needs to be subjected to closer scrutiny.

Read the press release: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/plos-tcu081911.php

Read the paper: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001076

<!--[if !mso]> <! st1:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } -->Link:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001076

Gary J. Fooks Anna B.Gilmore1 , Katherine E.Smith , Jeff Collin3, Chris Holden , Kelley Lee2

(2011) Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Policy Élites: an Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents PLoS Med 8(8): e1001076. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001076

Links between political influence and corporate social responsibility and are uncovered

Until now, how corporate social responsibility (CSR) works to secure access to public and elected officials has remained a mystery. For the first time researchers at the University of Bath have been able to explore this question using internal British American Tobacco (BAT) documents to look at how the company used CSR to re-establish access with the UK Department of Health following its decision to restrict contact with major tobacco companies and then shape the agenda of subsequent meetings. In the event, Department of Health officials blocked BAT’s attempts to change the course of tobacco control policy.

The British government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal shows clearly the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for large corporations wishing to securing political influence. It suggests that political CSR is being used effectively by companies in the food and alcohol sectors to provide an ostensibly robust case for voluntary regulation and free them of any concerns they may have about working in partnership with big corporations.

Our study found that CSR facilitates government access by focusing discussions on the importance of cooperation and consensus. Companies can convey the sense that they are offering support for government health policies by linking their political priorities to widely accepted social and political values. BAT linked its preferred policies to politically salient values such as harm reduction, child health, and the importance of cooperation between business and government. This enabled BAT employees to represent their dialogue as benign and unlikely to compromise government policy on tobacco control. Once the company had secured access to health officials, it then tried to use CSR to influence their priorities. It encouraged them to take notice of alternative modes of (voluntary) regulation, and revise their concerns about whether the industry could be trusted to work in partnership.

Gary Fooks, Research Fellow at the Tobacco Control Research Group said,

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that big corporations are using CSR to pre-empt legislation and generally influence public policy, but we don’t really know much about how CSR works to produce these effects. Our study provides grist to the idea that the constructive veneer that CSR gives to corporate lobbying – particularly its seductive appeal to values such as partnership and co-operation - makes proposals which are not in the public interest appear less threatening, good for everyone and, therefore, easier to swallow for policymakers. Whilst this isn’t such a problem where officials have a strong sense of the public interest and are knowledgeable and sceptical of the intentions of corporate lobbyists, it’s likely to be a big problem where they don’t adequately consider the differences between corporate interests and those of the broader electorate.”

Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group said,

“Our study underlines corporations’ increasing use of CSR for political ends. One of the brilliant things about research based on previous confidential industry documents is that we get quite a frank portrait of what companies are doing and why. The problem with contemporary government CSR-based initiatives, such as the Public Health Responsibility Deal, is that what’s going on is quite opaque to public scrutiny. This needs to be corrected. There’s some interesting work being done by NGOs but it’s just not enough. Governments across Europe need to be a lot more transparent in their dealings with multinational companies which look set to have an increasing impact on global health.”

“The international presence of BAT and its promotion of CSR across its subsidiaries suggest that the problems we’ve identified are likely to be widespread. What’s particularly worrying is that government departments across the world are opening themselves up to corporate social responsibility, expanding the number of access points and providing a very porous policy environment for these sorts of political strategies.”

The Story in Brief

Historically, BAT had enjoyed privileged access to policymakers and was regularly consulted on plans for new government policy. However, during the 1990s, its relationship with the British Government steadily deteriorated. By the end of the decade senior BAT managers were expressing increasing concerns about the company’s declining political influence which culminated in the Department of Health’s refusal to meet with members of the company. Martin Broughton (BAT’s chair between 1998 and 2004) described the relationship as a “Mexican stand-off” which had potentially serious ramifications for its ability to manage the impact of EU enlargement on its business in Eastern Europe.

BAT concluded that its ability to project itself as a good corporate citizen was key to its ability to normalise relations with the Department. Its platform for engagement was its Partnership for Change Programme (see below) – the blueprint for its current CSR programme. After trying unsuccessfully to persuade Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, to work in partnership, Broughton went over Milburn’s head and lobbied Tony Blair to use his influence to encourage a more conciliatory approach from the Department of Health. Whilst rejecting BAT’s arguments on a number of other issues, Blair gave Broughton the green light to talk to Department of Health officials about Partnership for Change.

Having been granted access, BAT employees used CSR initiatives and themes to set the agenda of discussions with health officials and encourage a continuing dialogue. According to BAT documents the content of meetings that subsequently took place closely mapped the themes BAT officials wanted discussed. BAT documents from the time are consistent with BAT using CSR initiatives strategically to influence the policy alternatives under discussion within the Department of Health. More recent evidence in the public domain suggests that BAT’s use of CSR as an agenda setting tool is ongoing.

Notes

British American Tobacco: British American Tobacco is the second largest tobacco company (by profitability) after Philip Morris International. Its CSR programme has been steadily accepted and approved by large parts of the investment and CSR communities. Senior employees are now frequently invited to speak at public engagements on CSR and business ethics and the company has won numerous awards for its CSRP.

British American Tobacco’s Partnership for Change Programme: BAT’s Partnership for Change programme covered a number of key areas such as voluntary marketing codes, youth smoking initiatives, accommodation of smokers and non-smokers, and reduced risk cigarettes. BAT also used the programme as an organising platform to frame its CSR initiatives in the early 2000s. By emphasising the value to public health of meetings between tobacco companies, government officials, and public health groups in the form of summits and forums the initiative was well designed to generate dialogue with the Department of Health.

Public Health Responsibility Deal: Companies from the food and alcohol sectors are currently enjoying greater success in influencing public health policy in the UK through the government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. The Deal encompasses five cross-sectoral networks established to drive forward improvements in public health. At the time of writing, corporations and business organisations outnumbered non-business organisations and individuals (academics, nongovernmental organisations, representatives of public institutions) two to one in the food and alcohol networks that are responsible for setting immediate public health objectives in these areas. By devolving policy formation and delivery to companies whose products and marketing practices constitute the key proximate drivers of alcohol- and diet-related ill health and mortality this marks a potentially important shift in public health policy towards coregulation. The organising principles of the Deal draw heavily on the idea that CSR can be exploited to promote public health. Further, devised when the Conservative Party were in opposition, the existence of the Deal owes much to the success that large food and drink companies had in using CSR as a means of both gaining access to senior Conservative Party members and developing an alternative agenda for public health policy, which attempts to reconcile public health with business competitiveness. Our findingsand the absence of strong evidence suggesting that co regulation is capable of aligning the business models of big food and drinks companies with the demands of public health suggest that the role of CSR in the Deal needs to be subjected to closer scrutiny.

Link:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001076

Gary J. Fooks[1] Anna B.Gilmore1 [2] , Katherine E.Smith[3] , Jeff Collin3, Chris Holden[4], Kelley Lee2

(2011) Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Policy Élites: an Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents PLoS Med 8(8): e1001076.

Until now, how corporate social responsibility (CSR) works to secure access to public and elected officials has remained a mystery. For the first time researchers at the University of Bath have been able to explore this question using internal British American Tobacco (BAT) documents to look at how the company used CSR to re-establish access with the UK Department of Health following its decision to restrict contact with major tobacco companies and then shape the agenda of subsequent meetings. In the event, Department of Health officials blocked BAT’s attempts to change the course of tobacco control policy.

The British government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal shows clearly the increasing importance of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for large corporations wishing to securing political influence. It suggests that political CSR is being used effectively by companies in the food and alcohol sectors to provide an ostensibly robust case for voluntary regulation and free them of any concerns they may have about working in partnership with big corporations.

Our study found that CSR facilitates government access by focusing discussions on the importance of cooperation and consensus. Companies can convey the sense that they are offering support for government health policies by linking their political priorities to widely accepted social and political values. BAT linked its preferred policies to politically salient values such as harm reduction, child health, and the importance of cooperation between business and government. This enabled BAT employees to represent their dialogue as benign and unlikely to compromise government policy on tobacco control. Once the company had secured access to health officials, it then tried to use CSR to influence their priorities. It encouraged them to take notice of alternative modes of (voluntary) regulation, and revise their concerns about whether the industry could be trusted to work in partnership.

Gary Fooks, Research Fellow at the Tobacco Control Research Group said,

“It’s becoming increasingly apparent that big corporations are using CSR to pre-empt legislation and generally influence public policy, but we don’t really know much about how CSR works to produce these effects. Our study provides grist to the idea that the constructive veneer that CSR gives to corporate lobbying – particularly its seductive appeal to values such as partnership and co-operation - makes proposals which are not in the public interest appear less threatening, good for everyone and, therefore, easier to swallow for policymakers. Whilst this isn’t such a problem where officials have a strong sense of the public interest and are knowledgeable and sceptical of the intentions of corporate lobbyists, it’s likely to be a big problem where they don’t adequately consider the differences between corporate interests and those of the broader electorate.”

Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group said,

“Our study underlines corporations’ increasing use of CSR for political ends. One of the brilliant things about research based on previous confidential industry documents is that we get quite a frank portrait of what companies are doing and why. The problem with contemporary government CSR-based initiatives, such as the Public Health Responsibility Deal, is that what’s going on is quite opaque to public scrutiny. This needs to be corrected. There’s some interesting work being done by NGOs but it’s just not enough. Governments across Europe need to be a lot more transparent in their dealings with multinational companies which look set to have an increasing impact on global health.”

“The international presence of BAT and its promotion of CSR across its subsidiaries suggest that the problems we’ve identified are likely to be widespread. What’s particularly worrying is that government departments across the world are opening themselves up to corporate social responsibility, expanding the number of access points and providing a very porous policy environment for these sorts of political strategies.”

The Story in Brief

Historically, BAT had enjoyed privileged access to policymakers and was regularly consulted on plans for new government policy. However, during the 1990s, its relationship with the British Government steadily deteriorated. By the end of the decade senior BAT managers were expressing increasing concerns about the company’s declining political influence which culminated in the Department of Health’s refusal to meet with members of the company. Martin Broughton (BAT’s chair between 1998 and 2004) described the relationship as a “Mexican stand-off” which had potentially serious ramifications for its ability to manage the impact of EU enlargement on its business in Eastern Europe.

BAT concluded that its ability to project itself as a good corporate citizen was key to its ability to normalise relations with the Department. Its platform for engagement was its Partnership for Change Programme (see below) – the blueprint for its current CSR programme. After trying unsuccessfully to persuade Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, to work in partnership, Broughton went over Milburn’s head and lobbied Tony Blair to use his influence to encourage a more conciliatory approach from the Department of Health. Whilst rejecting BAT’s arguments on a number of other issues, Blair gave Broughton the green light to talk to Department of Health officials about Partnership for Change.

Having been granted access, BAT employees used CSR initiatives and themes to set the agenda of discussions with health officials and encourage a continuing dialogue. According to BAT documents the content of meetings that subsequently took place closely mapped the themes BAT officials wanted discussed. BAT documents from the time are consistent with BAT using CSR initiatives strategically to influence the policy alternatives under discussion within the Department of Health. More recent evidence in the public domain suggests that BAT’s use of CSR as an agenda setting tool is ongoing.

Notes

British American Tobacco: British American Tobacco is the second largest tobacco company (by profitability) after Philip Morris International. Its CSR programme has been steadily accepted and approved by large parts of the investment and CSR communities. Senior employees are now frequently invited to speak at public engagements on CSR and business ethics and the company has won numerous awards for its CSRP.

British American Tobacco’s Partnership for Change Programme: BAT’s Partnership for Change programme covered a number of key areas such as voluntary marketing codes, youth smoking initiatives, accommodation of smokers and non-smokers, and reduced risk cigarettes. BAT also used the programme as an organising platform to frame its CSR initiatives in the early 2000s. By emphasising the value to public health of meetings between tobacco companies, government officials, and public health groups in the form of summits and forums the initiative was well designed to generate dialogue with the Department of Health.

Public Health Responsibility Deal: Companies from the food and alcohol sectors are currently enjoying greater success in influencing public health policy in the UK through the government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. The Deal encompasses five cross-sectoral networks established to drive forward improvements in public health. At the time of writing, corporations and business organisations outnumbered non-business organisations and individuals (academics, nongovernmental organisations, representatives of public institutions) two to one in the food and alcohol networks that are responsible for setting immediate public health objectives in these areas. By devolving policy formation and delivery to companies whose products and marketing practices constitute the key proximate drivers of alcohol- and diet-related ill health and mortality this marks a potentially important shift in public health policy towards coregulation. The organising principles of the Deal draw heavily on the idea that CSR can be exploited to promote public health. Further, devised when the Conservative Party were in opposition, the existence of the Deal owes much to the success that large food and drink companies had in using CSR as a means of both gaining access to senior Conservative Party members and developing an alternative agenda for public health policy, which attempts to reconcile public health with business competitiveness. Our findings—and the absence of strong evidence suggesting that co regulation is capable of aligning the business models of big food and drinks companies with the demands of public health —suggest that the role of CSR in the Deal needs to be subjected to closer scrutiny.

Link:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001076

Gary J. Fooks Anna B.Gilmore1 , Katherine E.Smith , Jeff Collin3, Chris Holden , Kelley Lee2

(2011) Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Policy Élites: an Analysis of Tobacco Industry Documents PLoS Med 8(8): e1001076. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001076

Contact:

Dr Gary Fooks

Department for Health, University of Bath

doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001076

Contact:

Dr Gary Fooks

Department for Health, University of Bath


[1] School for Health, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom.

[2] London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.

[3] Centre for International Public Health Policy, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

[4] Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, York, United Kingdom.