How does the alcohol industry attempt to influence marketing regulations? A systematic review

Emily Savell*, Gary Fooks, Anna B. Gilmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To systematically review, using a qualitative, narrative synthesis approach, papers examining alcohol industry efforts to influence alcohol marketing policy, and compare with those used by the tobacco industry. Methods: Literature searches were conducted between April and July 2011, and updated in March 2013. Papers were included if they: made reference to alcohol industry efforts to influence (a) policy debates concerning marketing regulations, (b) new specific marketing policies or (c) broad alcohol policy which included marketing regulations; were written in English; and concerned the period 1990-2013. Alcohol industry political activity was categorized into strategies/tactics and frames/arguments. Data extraction was undertaken by the lead author and 100% of the papers were fully second-reviewed. Seventeen papers met the review criteria. Results: Five main political strategies and five main frames were identified. The alcohol industry argues against marketing regulation by emphasizing industry responsibility and the effectiveness of self-regulation, questioning the effectiveness of statutory regulation and by focusing on individual responsibility. Arguments relating to industry responsibility are often reinforced through corporate social responsibility activities. The industry primarily conveys its arguments through manipulating the evidence base and by promoting ineffective voluntary codes and non-regulatory initiatives. Conclusions: The alcohol industry's political activity is more varied than existing models of corporate political activity suggest. The industry's opposition to marketing regulation centres on claims that the industry is responsible and that self regulation is effective. There are considerable commonalities between tobacco and alcohol industry political activity, with differences due potentially to differences in policy contexts and perceived industry legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18–32
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Early online date25 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The Authors. Addiction published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funding: National Cancer Institute of the United States National Institutes of Health (R01CA160695); ESRC (ES/I900284/1).


  • alcohol industry
  • corporate policy influence
  • corporate political activity
  • framing
  • marketing policy
  • marketing regulation
  • systematic review
  • tobacco industry


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