Unpacking policy formulation and industry influence: The case of the draft control of marketing of alcoholic beverages bill in South Africa

Adam Bertscher, Leslie London, Marsha Orgill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (SciVal)


Alcohol is a major contributor to the Non-Communicable Disease burden in South Africa. In 2000, 7.1% of all deaths and 7% of total disability-adjusted life years were ascribed to alcohol-related harm in the country. Regulations proposed to restrict alcohol advertising in South Africa present an evidence-based upstream intervention. Research on policy formulation in low-and middle-income countries is limited. This study aims to describe and explore the policy formulation process of the 2013 draft Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill in South Africa between March 2011 and May 2017. Recognising the centrality of affected actors in policy-making processes, the study focused on the alcohol industry as a central actor affected by the policy, to understand how they-together with other actors-may influence the policy formulation process. A qualitative case study approach was used, involving a stakeholder mapping, 10 in-depth interviews, and review of approximately 240 documents. A policy formulation conceptual framework was successfully applied as a lens to describe a complex policy formulation process. Key factors shaping policy formulation included: (1) competing and shared values-different stakeholders promote conflicting ideals for policymaking; (2) inter-department jostling-different government departments seek to protect their own functions, hindering policy development; (3) stakeholder consultation in democratic policymaking-policy formulation requires consultations even with those opposed to regulation and (4) battle for evidence-evidence is used strategically by all parties to shape perceptions and leverage positions. This research (1) contributes to building an integrated body of knowledge on policy formulation in low-and middle-income countries; (2) shows that achieving policy coherence across government departments poses a major challenge to achieving effective health policy formulation and (3) shows that networks of actors with commercial and financial interests use diverse strategies to influence policy formulation processes to avoid regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)786-800
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number7
Early online date21 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2018


  • Alcohol industry
  • Corporate policy influence
  • Marketing policy
  • Marketing regulation
  • Policy analysis
  • Policy formulation
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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