Understanding commercial actors’ engagement in policy debates on proposed e-cigarette regulation in Scotland

Ikegwuonu, T., Hilton, S. , Smith, K. E., Buckton, C. H. , Wong, M. and Weishaar, H. B. (2022) Understanding commercial actors’ engagement in policy debates on proposed e-cigarette regulation in Scotland. Tobacco Control, 31(4), pp. 511-519. (doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2020-056084) (PMID:33771932)

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There is growing concern about transnational tobacco corporations’ (TTCs) and other commercial actors’ involvement in e-cigarette policy development. Previous analyses suggest that TTCs used e-cigarette debates to demonstrate alignment with public health and re-gain policy influence. Less is known about the engagement of other types of commercial actors in e-cigarette policy debates. This paper is the first to empirically analyse commercial actors’ engagement in an e-cigarette policy consultation process and to examine their views on proposed regulation. It applies mixed methods, drawing on policy consultation submissions (n=32), semi-structured interviews (n=9) and a social network analysis of website links among 32 commercial actors. The results show that commercial actors’ positions on e-cigarette regulation aligned with business interests. TTCs, independent e-cigarette manufacturers and other non-licensed commercial actors were opposed to most aspects of potential e-cigarette regulation (except for age of sale restrictions), whereas licensed commercial actors, including pharmaceutical companies, supported more stringent regulation. While collaboration was viewed as strategically important to gain policy influence, distinct commercial interests and concerns about TTC credibility led to strategic distancing and to collaboration being largely confined to sector boundaries. In addition to reiterating arguments employed by TTCs in previous regulatory debates, commercial actors focused on highlighting the technical complexity and harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes. Awareness of the various commercial interests and strategic positioning of commercial actors in e-cigarette policy should inform public health advocacy and policy development, including managing conflicts of interest in the context of FCTC Article 5.3.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This project was funded by a CRUK Tobacco Advisory Group Project Award C54625/A20494. SH, TI and CHB were part funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12017/15, MC_UU_12017/13) and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates (SPHSU15) at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ikegwuonu, Dr Theresa and Buckton, Christina and Hilton, Professor Shona and Weishaar, Dr Heide and Wong, Dr Mark
Authors: Ikegwuonu, T., Hilton, S., Smith, K. E., Buckton, C. H., Wong, M., and Weishaar, H. B.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Tobacco Control
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1468-3318
Published Online:26 March 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Tobacco Control 31(4): 511-519
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
172079Understanding commercial sector engagement in emerging debates on e-cigarettesShona HiltonCancer Research UK (CRUK)C54625/A20494SHW - MRC/CSO - Internal Research
727671Informing Healthy Public PolicyPeter CraigMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/15HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
727651Measuring and Analysing Socioeconomic Inequalities in HealthAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/13HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
727671Informing Healthy Public PolicyPeter CraigOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU15HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit