PHM-Exch> Interference in public health policy: examples of how the baby food industry uses tobacco industry tactics

Claudio Schuftan schuftan at
Sat Dec 9 01:57:07 PST 2017

Despite countries’ commitments
to improve nutrition, starting with the protection
of breastfeeding, aggressive marketing of breastmilk substitutes continues
promote their indiscriminate use. The baby food industry appears to use
interference tactics as the tobacco industry to influence public health,
their products and expand their markets.
Learning from the tobacco experience, this paper assesses whether the baby
industry uses any of the six tobacco industry interference tactics
recognized by the
World Health Organization (WHO) and summarizes examples of documented
We conclude that the baby food industry uses all six tactics: (1)
manoeuvring to
hijack the political and legislative process; (2) exaggerating economic
of the industry; (3) manipulating public opinion to gain appearance of
respectability; (4) fabricating support through front groups; (5)
proven science; and (6) intimidating governments with litigation. There is
abundant anecdotal evidence. Published evidence is limited and varies by
Examples of interference are provided for the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos,
Ecuador, Hong Kong, Mexico and the United Kingdom, and most for tactic 3.
Interference in public health policies shows commonalities between the two
industries. The tobacco control movement offers a useful framework for
classifying and addressing interference with public policy by the baby food
Revealing the depth and extent of interference used by the baby food
industry is critical if countriesare to counter interference and implement
commitments to improve nutrition.

2017; 8(2)
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