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Appears in Collections:History and Politics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: A comparison of tobacco policy in the UK and Japan: if the scientific evidence is identical, why is there a major difference in policy?
Author(s): Cairney, Paul
Yamazaki, Mikine
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Keywords: Comparative policy
tobacco control
policy environments
multiple streams approach
evidence-based policymaking
Issue Date: 31-Dec-2018
Citation: Cairney P & Yamazaki M (2018) A comparison of tobacco policy in the UK and Japan: if the scientific evidence is identical, why is there a major difference in policy?, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, 20 (3), pp. 253-268.
Policy Skills Analysis Programme
Abstract: Tobacco policy in the UK and Japan has diverged markedly. In the 1980s, both countries oversaw regimes with minimal economic and regulatory policies. Now, the UK has become one of the most, and Japan one of the least, controlled (advanced industrial) states. These developments are puzzling to public health scholars who give primary explanatory weight to scientific evidence and a vague notion of ‘political will’, because policymakers possessed the same evidence on the harms of tobacco, and made the same international commitment to comprehensive tobacco control. Instead, we identify the role of a mutually reinforcing dynamic in policy environments, facilitating policy change in the UK but not Japan: policymakers accepted the scientific evidence, framed tobacco as a public health epidemic, placed health departments at the heart of policy, formed networks with public health groups and excluded tobacco companies, and, accentuated socio-economic conditions supportive of tobacco control. This dynamic helps explain why the UK became more likely to select each tobacco policy control instrument during a series of ‘windows of opportunity’. Such analysis, generated by policy theory, is crucial to contemporary science/ practitioner debates on the politics of ‘evidence-based policymaking’: the evidence does not speak for itself, and practitioners need to know how to use it effectively in policy environments.
DOI Link: 10.1080/13876988.2017.1323439
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis: Research and Practice on 16 May 2017, available online:

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