Intended for healthcare professionals


Corporate involvement in public health policy is being obscured

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 28 May 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3429
  1. Jeff Collin, professor of global health policy,
  2. Sarah Hill, senior lecturer
  1. 1Global Public Health Unit, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9LD, UK
  1. jeff.collin{at}

Plain packaging policy should be developed in plain sight

The government in England, having previously indicated its intention to follow Australia’s lead in legislating for plain packaging for cigarettes, has reportedly abandoned this public health initiative.1 This policy U turn was met with dismay from tobacco control advocates,2 jubilation by the tobacco industry, and an increase in tobacco share prices.1 Plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol in England and Wales were also recently jettisoned after intensive lobbying by industry. Furthermore, the government has abandoned its plan to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists (signalled in its coalition agreement).3

These public health casualties of the government’s midterm travails reinforce concerns about the role of the commercial sector in public health policy. Corporate involvement in public health is epitomised by a Public Health Responsibility Deal that privileges initiatives favoured by the alcohol and processed food industries.4 The absence of a statutory register of lobbyists underlines a continuing lack of transparency because it means that private companies can petition to take over health campaigns …

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