Date of Award
Master of Science
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Dr. Anita Kothari
Introduction. This case study examined the tobacco industry as a stakeholder during the
parliamentary hearings on a 1997 keystone piece of Canadian tobacco legislation—Bill C-71, the Tobacco Act—regulating the sale, manufacture, sponsorship and promotion of tobacco products. A significant amount of public participation was present in the hearings, in which the tobacco industry stakeholders (e.g., growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers, allied manufacturing industries, and sponsored sport and cultural events organizers) provided more than half of all written and oral submissions to government.
Background. The government introduced Bill C-71 after the 1995 Supreme Court of Canada sided with the tobacco industry in a decision to strike down the standing tobacco control legislation. Purpose. This study undertook the examination of the explicit and implicit meanings of statements within tobacco industry submissions to the Canadian government in order to understand how the tobacco industry attempted to influence tobacco control legislation during the policy development of Bill C-71. The research questions asked: 1) How were issues related to smoking and tobacco discussed in the texts?; and 2) What discursive tactics were used by the tobacco industry stakeholders to justify their positions? Methods. 77 tobacco industry oral and written submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs were analysed using interpretive discourse analysis. The first level of analysis used a tool that drew on Potter & Wetherell (1994) and Rudman (2003). Foci
were placed on how tactics were used within the texts to create roles, shape and forefront
particular identities, arguments against opposition, problems and solutions. The second level of analysis drew on the first level to examine the discursive tactics employed by tobacco industry stakeholders. The approach to analysis and interpretation o f discursive tactics involved detailed reading of texts as well as linking texts with broader contextual features, particularly sociopolitical and economic contextual factors (e.g., neoliberal economic policies, illegal market surge, judicial strike down of past legislation, and national cultural divide between Anglophone and Francophone populations).
Findings. Six categories of discursive tactics were constructed through interaction with texts: 1) presentation of self (e.g., community-involved
victim); 2) undermining government efforts (e.g., harm-causing, counter Canadian tradition, totalitarian); 3) tactical use of evidence (manipulation of counter evidence, presenting misleading studies); 4) use of intentional discourse types (legal, constitution and democracy-based); 5) evasion of health discourse (e.g., superficial support for health objectives, denying links to tobacco industry); and 6) increasing economic discourse (framing self as entrepreneur, consumer and market-based solutions).
Conclusions. In this case study, many tactics were used to frame smoking and tobacco, and problems and solutions in ways aligned with neoliberal ideology or rationality, focusing on individual responsibility, freedom in the market place, entrepreneurship and minimizing a government role. Appeals to “reason”, “justice”, and “democracy” were made by all tobacco industry stakeholders to liken Bill C-71 to its predecessor and undermine government’s overall health objectives and specific regulations. Tobacco industry stakeholders portrayed government as the root of the problem of tobacco consumption and negative economic situation, thereby deflecting responsibility from
themselves and evading health issues. Interestingly, many of these same arguments have been cited in literature since the early 1980s, suggesting that tactics are re-used and specific argument content is shaped by the context. Findings may assist health promoters identify and prepare for future opposition from the tobacco industry.
Kumpunen, Stephanie K., "FEDERAL PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE HEARINGS ON BILL C-71, THE TOBACCO ACT: EXAMINING WRITTEN AND ORAL STATEMENTS OF TOBACCO INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS" (2009). Digitized Theses. 4051.