Health Professions and Political Support for Tobacco Advertising Restrictions: A Comparative Analysis
24 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2016 Last revised: 7 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 5, 2017
How do politico-economic institutions shape the political activity of domestic health professions concerning public health matters? This research question is important as health professions’ reputational power can make an important contribution to tobacco control policymaking. In this article, I argue that in countries whose institutions produce politically “free professions” health professionals are more politically active regarding public health issues because they need more legitimacy clout to advocate their special interests and are less afraid of political repercussions when criticizing government. On the other hand, in countries with institutional configurations that incentivize professions to act as “professions of office” there is the opposite effect: health professions produce less public support on issues beyond their special interests because they are included in the political process anyway and do not need additional legitimacy clout. These differences in health professions’ political activity have some impacts on the adoption of tobacco control policies. To support this argument empirically, the paper uses data from a discourse network analysis of tobacco advertising restrictions in four countries (Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States), and compares the political activity of health professions with other actors in the political process (bureaucracy, parties, other interest groups, courts). The results of the empirical analysis confirm my argument regarding the political activity of health professions but the findings need to be interpreted carefully regarding the impact of health professions’ political activity on tobacco control policy. In general, this study contributes to the literature on public health and comparative health policy by unpacking how political institutions shape public health politics in different countries.
Keywords: Professions, Tobacco advertising, institutions, interest groups
JEL Classification: I00, L49, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation