Processus politiques et débats associés à la taxation des boissons sucrées en santé publique : du cas français à la situation canadienne

Authors: Le Bodo, Yann
Advisor: De Wals, Philippe
Abstract: Among other interventions aimed to promote healthy eating and prevent chronic diseases, sugarsweetened beverage taxation has been recommended and nearly 50 jurisdictions around the world have adopted such a tax over the past 15 years. However, this measure remains controversial. After an introduction on the concept of health-related food taxation, the first chapter of this thesis analyses the relevance of taxing soda for public health, then chapters 2 and 3 focus on the political processes and debates associated with this measure in two countries: France, where a tax has been adopted, and Canada, where discussions are still ongoing. Adapted from a book published in 2016, Chapter 1 is a knowledge synthesis integrating data from multiple disciplines into a three-part analytical framework (rationale, potential effects, applicability). While identifying areas for further evaluation, the analysis indicates that sugar-sweetened beverage taxation could be part of a portfolio of nutrition-enhancing policies, including in Canada. Excessive consumption of these drinks is associated with an increased risk of weight gain, dental caries and type 2 diabetes. Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages tends to generate price increases which, when significant (≥ 10%), are generally followed by purchase reductions. In some cases, this measure could also encourage manufacturers to reduce the sugar content of their products. Soda taxation is also a way to generate revenue. Its acceptability to the public, which is rather low, tends to increase if these revenues are reinvested for the benefit of the population. However, soda taxes raise ethical and equity concerns, legal feasibility challenges and political acceptability issues, depending on the context. Chapter 2 emphasizes the importance of analyzing the policy process of a soda tax, as it underlies its design, possible adoption and potential effects. There are few studies on this subject. The French case study (2005-2012) is based on a review of press articles and institutional documents as well as a thematic analysis guided by Kingdon's multiple streams theory. It highlights several conditions that contributed to opening a "policy window" in 2011: the announcement made by the government occurred in the context of severe budgetary deficits; tax scenarios had been developed in the past; the bill was supported by convinced political leaders. Then, various conditions (strong but disorganized reaction from the industry, interest of Deputies in the revenues generated) favoured the adoption of the tax, but to the detriment of its initial public health purpose. Taking into account the international literature, the discussion identifies various factors that may inform public health actors wishing to influence soda tax policy processes. Chapter 3 focuses on the Canadian situation. In order to explore how the public debate may have hindered the elaboration of a soda tax in recent years, a framing analysis of the topic in the media was conducted (2007-2016) to assess the respective weight of pro- and anti-taxation positions, the type of actors they originate from and their arguments. A total of 762 positions have been identified from the review of press articles. The results show a larger number of positions in 2016 (n=234), at the federal level (n=267) and in Quebec (n=254). The monthly "peaks of positions" (n ≥ 10) in these two jurisdictions reveal limited political support, an unfavourable political and economic context, and advocacy efforts by "pro-health" organizations that did not seem to gather sufficient support to shift the debate in their favour. Should a "policy window" open, this study sheds light on framing elements that may "resonate" in the public debate while being compatible with the most promising evidence regarding the relevance of such a tax. Finally, the conclusion integrates lessons from the three chapters, emphasizes the interest of having mobilized various theoretical and disciplinary perspectives, summarizes key conditions influencing the elaboration of a soda tax, and discusses how such a research may contribute to inform decisionmaking processes.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2020
Open Access Date: 14 February 2020
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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