Understanding the Political Organization and Tactics of the Alcohol Industry in Ireland 2009-2018

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OBJECTIVE: This study examines how the alcohol industry responded to developments in Irish alcohol policy leading to the 2018 Public Health (Alcohol) Act, a set of measures designed to reduce overall alcohol consumption in order to reduce harm to health and society. Previous research has emphasized the political and economic strengths of the alcohol industry in Ireland and elsewhere. This study examines the origins of and the debates over this legislation to better understand the political tactics of the alcohol industry.

METHOD: The study focuses on developments between 2009 and 2018, tracing activities by industry actors to shape the policy process at different junctures. Data for the study are drawn from 18 semi-structured interviews with politicians, government advisors, public health experts, and advocates as well as from relevant primary documents, public statements, and newspaper articles.

RESULTS: The study identifies three interrelated tactics used by alcohol industry actors--obstruction through participation, coalition-building and mobilizing proxies, and making use of extensive political resources in lobbying--and traces their impacts at different points in the policy process. We find that industry actors had some success in influencing policy, defeating particular provisions by averting their inclusion, and winning amendments to others, but ultimately failed to defeat the legislation. Specific opportunities and constraints present in the Irish context for alcohol industry actors are identified.

CONCLUSIONS: Public health considerations withstood a range of challenges from alcohol industry interests in passing public health legislation in Ireland. The findings have important implications for the study of the alcohol industry's political tactics in Ireland and elsewhere, including the use of lobbying registry data as a potential data source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-581
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022


  • Food Industry
  • Humans
  • Industry
  • Ireland/epidemiology
  • Lobbying
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy

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