Audio podcast: Unhealthy commodity producers and health governance: Policy implications of strategic and structural links across alcohol, tobacco and ultra-processed food manufacturers

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Jeff Collin is Professor of Global Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh where he established the Global Public Health Unit in the School of Social and Political Science.  

In this seminar, he talks about the increased prominence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) within global health and development agendas is epitomised by their inclusion within the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet the terms of this inclusion highlight major tensions that undermine the efficacy and legitimacy of national and international health initiatives. The commercial drivers of NCD epidemics are largely ignored, while commitments to partnership with alcohol and food producers ignore conflicts between health objectives and economic interests. Conversely, tobacco control is to be pursued via a distinctive model of health governance centred on protecting health policy from tobacco industry interference.

This presentation questions the viability of ‘tobacco exceptionalism’ within health policy. Alongside the comparable health impacts of alcohol, ultra-processed food and tobacco products, there has been increasing recognition of strategic similarities, policy learning and collaboration across their leading producers. This presentation adds an examination of structural links through mergers and acquisitions and via interlocking directorates, exploring inter-firm ties, cross-sectoral links and access to political elites as well as to health and development agencies. Through a case study of SAB Miller, a leading brewer with extensive ties across tobacco and food industries, the seminar will highlight the potential significance of understanding such links to transforming health governance.

More information on this seminar:

Presentation slides: (PDF, 2.92MB)

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