Multilevel Governance, Public Health and the Regulation of Food: Is Tobacco Control Policy a Model?

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Campaigns against risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) caused by smoking and obesity have become increasingly common on multiple levels of government, from the local to the international. Non-governmental actors have cooperated with government bodies to make policies. By analysing the policies of the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization, the European Union, and the United Kingdom and United States governments, we identify how the struggles between public health advocates and commercial interests reached the global level, and how the relatively successful fight to ‘denormalize’ tobacco consumption has become a model for anti-obesity advocates. It highlights three factors important in policy change: framing the policy problem, the policymaking environment and ‘windows of opportunity’—to analyse the struggle between ‘harm regulation’ and ‘neoprohibition’ approaches to an international obesity prevention regime.