chapter  4
20 Pages

Tobacco control policy in Western Europe: A case of protracted paradigm change


Over the past half century there has been a major change in tobacco policy (usually called tobacco control policy). In the 1950s tobacco smoking was considered an unobjectionable part of normal social life, with few restrictions on it except for reasons of food sanitation, fire protection, and sometimes protection of youth. The product also was normalized, as was the industry that manufactured the products. In countries where governments allowed product advertising in broadcasting and telecasting, cigarette companies sponsored many of the most popular programs. At the beginning of the 1960s, governments had yet to transform the growing body of scientific reports on the dangers of cigarette smoking into official policy. A few

Tobacco control policy offers a good empirical test for studying policy change. Over the past half century it has become an important health issue across industrialized democracies in Western Europe. There is a substantial difference between policies now in place to restrict smoking through various policy instruments and the practically unrestricted promotion and consumption of tobacco in the 1950s. A convergent, albeit protracted, pattern of change for West European democracies has developed although the strength of these policies continues to vary. The scope of policies has broadened, and the tempo has increased. In general, there has been a policy paradigm (third order, transformative) change across 18 West European countries in policy definition, agenda setting, instruments, and content.