Quantifying the influence of the tobacco industry on EU governance: automated content analysis of the EU Tobacco Products Directive

**Note: no analysis of Art18 wording. Could we extract info on lobbying by tobacco industry on Art18 (now 20)?**

The tobacco industry spends large sums lobbying the European Union (EU) institutions, yet whether such lobbying significantly affects tobacco policy is not well understood. We used novel quantitative text mining techniques to evaluate the impact of industry pressure on the contested EU Tobacco Products Directive revision.

Published: 13 August 2014

Positive: Neutral

Link to publication: http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/23/6/473.full

Authors:

Hélia Costa
Anna B Gilmore
Silvy Peeters
Martin McKee
David Stuckler


Summary

Design Policy positions of 18 stakeholders including the tobacco industry, health NGOs and tobacco retailers were evaluated using their text submissions to EU consultations and impact assessments. Using Wordscores to calculate word frequencies, we developed a scale ranging from 0–tobacco industry to 1–public health organisations, which was then used to track changes in the policy position of the European Commission’s 2010 consultation document, its 2012 final proposal and the European Parliament and Council’s approved legislation in March 2014.

Results Several stakeholders’ positions were closer to the tobacco industry than that of health NGOs, including retailers (ω=0.35), trade unions (ω=0.34) and publishers (ω=0.33 and ω=0.40). Over time the European Commission’s position shifted towards the tobacco industry from ω=0.52 (95% CI 0.50 to 0.54) to ω=0.40 (95% CI 0.39 to 0.42). This transition reflected an increasing use of words pertaining to business and the economy in the Commission’s document. Our findings were robust to alternative methods of scoring policy positions in EU documents.


Conclusions

Conclusions Using quantitative text mining techniques, we observed that tobacco industry lobbying activity at the EU was associated with significant policy shifts in the EU Tobacco Products Directive legislation towards the tobacco industry’s submissions. In the light of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, additional governance strategies are needed to prevent undue influence of the tobacco industry on EU policy making.

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The revision of the 2014 European tobacco products directive: an analysis of the tobacco industry’s attempts to ‘break the health silo’

The 2014 European Union (EU) Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was negotiated in a changed policy context, following adoption of the EU’s ‘Smart Regulation’ agenda, which transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) anticipated would increase their influence on health policy, and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which sought to reduce it. This study aims to explore the scale and nature of the TTCs’ lobby against the EU TPD and evaluate how these developments have affected their ability to exert influence.

Published: 24 February 2015

Positive: neutral for vaping

Link to publication: http://m.tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2015/02/06/tobaccocontrol-2014-051919.full

doi:10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2014-051919

Authors:

Silvy Peeters
Hélia Costa
David Stuckler
Martin McKee
Anna B Gilmore


Abstract

Background The 2014 European Union (EU) Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) was negotiated in a changed policy context, following adoption of the EU’s ‘Smart Regulation’ agenda, which transnational tobacco companies (TTCs) anticipated would increase their influence on health policy, and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which sought to reduce it. This study aims to explore the scale and nature of the TTCs’ lobby against the EU TPD and evaluate how these developments have affected their ability to exert influence.

Methods Analysis of 581 documents obtained through freedom of information requests, 28 leaked Philip Morris International (PMI) documents, 17 TTC documents from the Legacy Library, web content via Google alerts and searches of the EU institutions’ websites, plus four stakeholder interviews.

Results The lobby was massive. PMI alone employed over 160 lobbyists. Strategies mainly used third parties. Efforts to ‘Push’ (amend) or ‘Delay’ the proposal and block ‘extreme policy options’ were partially successful, with plain packaging and point of sales display ban removed during the 3-year delay in the Commission. The Smart Regulation mechanism contributed to changes and delays, facilitating meetings between TTC representatives (including ex-Commission employees) and senior Commission staff. Contrary to Article 5.3, these meetings were not disclosed.


Conclusions

During the legislative process, Article 5.3 was not consistently applied by non-health Directorates of the European Commission, while the tools of the Smart Regulation appear to have facilitated TTC access to, and influence on, the 2014 TPD. The use of third parties undermines Article 5.3.

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