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How do unhealthy commodity industries influence public policy?

How do unhealthy commodity industries influence public policy?
Speaker: Prof Peter Adams # University of Auckland
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Date and Time
18th Sep 2018 13:00 - 18th Sep 2018 14:00
Seminar Room 2 Chrystal Macmillan Building

Over the last fifty years, successive governments in high-income countries such as New Zealand have consistently favoured less effective interventions for tobacco, alcohol, gambling and unhealthy food and beverages over what research indicates are more effective interventions. This presentation asks how these unhealthy commodity industries have achieved such disproportionate influence on public policy.

It examines the ways in which producers and retailers of these unhealthy commodities seek to influence policy via three pathways or chains of influence. First, on the public good chain, a series of relationships aim to impress on the public and policy makers that: these industries are a vital part of our economy, that it is individual consumers and not the system that are responsible for problems and that industry is actively doing something about these problems. Second, on the knowledge chain, industries play an active role in both influencing research funding mechanisms and in managing how it is used and interpreted. Third, on the political chain, industry actors strive to form relationships of mutual obligation with political actors through an array of personal contacts and favour exchanges. These three chains act together in driving pro-consumption policies.

Peter Adams is professor and deputy head of the University of Auckland’s School of Population Health and an associate director of the Centre for Addiction Research. His research interests include: social theory, family impacts of addictions, industry conflicts of interest and public health approaches to gambling. He has published five sole-authored books: Gambling, Freedom and Democracy (Routledge, 2007); Fragmented Intimacy: Addiction in a Social World (Springer, 2008); Masculine Empire: How Men Use Violence to Keep Women in Line (Dunmore, 2012); Moral Jeopardy: Risks of Accepting Money from the Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Industries (Cambridge University Press, 2016); and Navigating Everyday Life: Exploring the Tension Between Finitude and Transcendence (Lexington Books, 2018).