Document Type : Commentary
The University of Sydney Law School, Sydney, NSW, Australia
O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, USA
The food, tobacco and alcohol industries have penetrated markets in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with a significant impact on these countries’ burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Tangcharoensathien and colleagues describe the aggressive marketing of unhealthy food, alcohol and tobacco in LMICs, as well as key tactics used by these industries to resist laws and policies designed to reduce behavioural risk factors for NCDs. This commentary expands on the recommendations made by Tangcharoensathien and colleagues for preventing or managing conflicts of interest and reducing undue industry influence on NCD prevention policies and laws, focusing on the needs of LMICs. A growing body of research proposes ways to design voluntary industry initiatives to make them more effective, transparent and accountable, but governments should also consider whether collaboration with health-harming industries is ever appropriate. More fundamentally, mechanisms for identifying, managing and mitigating conflicts of interest and reducing industry influence must be woven into – and supported by – broader governance and regulatory structures at both national and international levels.