A Political Economy Analysis of Health Taxes

Thomas F. Babor, Jeff Collin, Maristela G. Monteiro

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Industry sectors involved in the production, distribution, sales and promotion of tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) tend to oppose health taxes because they can decrease the demand for their products and thus reduce shareholder profits. This creates an inherent conflict of interest between the commercial goals of these industries and the public health responsibilities of governments. These industries have become increasingly concentrated into a small number of global corporations that account for a large proportion of the market for these products, especially in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). There are similarities in the way these products are marketed and purchased, explaining the historical and emerging linkages across industries in how they conduct political activities that influence the policy environment for their products. To illustrate this development, we conducted a broad search for examples of the tactics used by these industries in their treatment of health taxes and pricing policies. Sixty-four documented examples were identified that illustrate how five general corporate political strategies are implemented in a wide variety of countries: (1) using information to gain access to political decision-makers; (2) constituency-building with influential political decision-makers; (3) promoting alternative policies or voluntary measures as substitutes for statutory regulation; (4) using financial incentives to influence government policymakers to act in ways favourable to industry interests; and (5) legal measures employing trade agreements as well as pre-emption, litigation, and circumvention….
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealth Taxes
Subtitle of host publicationPolicy and Practice
EditorsJeremy A. Lauer, Franco Sassi, Agnès Soucat, Angeli Vigo
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Europe Ltd.
Number of pages54
ISBN (Electronic)9781800612396
ISBN (Print)9781800612389
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


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