BACKGROUND: There has been insufficient research attention to alcohol industry methods of influencing public policies. With the exception of the tobacco industry, there have been few studies of the impact of corporate lobbying on public health policymaking more broadly.
METHODS: We summarize here findings from documentary analyses and interview studies in an integrative review of corporate efforts to influence UK policy on minimum unit pricing (MUP) of alcohol 2007-10.
RESULTS: Alcohol producers and retailers adopted a long-term, relationship-building approach to policy influence, in which personal contacts with key policymakers were established and nurtured, including when they were not in government. The alcohol industry was successful in achieving access to UK policymakers at the highest levels of government and at all stages of the policy process. Within the United Kingdom, political devolution and the formation for the first time of a Scottish National Party (SNP) government disrupted the existing long-term strategy of alcohol industry actors and created the conditions for evidence-based policy innovations such as MUP.
CONCLUSIONS: Comparisons between policy communities within the United Kingdom and elsewhere are useful to the understanding of how different policy environments are amenable to influence through lobbying. Greater transparency in how policy is made is likely to lead to more effective alcohol and other public policies globally by constraining the influence of vested interests.