Table 2

A typology of potential interactions between harmful commodity industries (HCIs) and local authorities (LAs) with illustrative examples in the English context

ThemesInteractionsExamples
Category 1: involvement with the LA (governmental)
(1) Contractual, legal and regulatory
  • Commissioning (eg, service provision, industry organising an event LA funds)

  • Licensing (Premises licences for alcohol/drinking establishments, fast food outlets and operating/premises/personal licences for gambling outlets)

  • ‘Pouring rights’ contracts, franchises (eg, sales in a venue, local schools, hospitals)

  • Marketing/advertising on the LA platform (LA-owned property/advertising spaces)

  • Industry withdrawal/termination of local investments/contracts/resources/revenue if new local public health policies are introduced

  • LA investments/business links/financial ties linked with industry and joint endeavours

  • Litigate, sue, use court injunction or threaten—‘regulatory chill’, against LA policies, organisations or individuals

  • Create loopholes in local-level laws, agreements and rights

  • Illicit trade, price-fixing, bribery, grey market activity and corruption in the locality

  • Fast-food franchise in a hospital

  • LA purchase of a retail park (including fast-food outlets) to generate income

  • LA pension investment in Tobacco and HFSS

  • LA investment in supermarket

  • HFSS brand litigation case against LA that rejected planning for a new outlet development

  • Appealing LA decisions to reject new planning applications for A5 hot food takeaways

  • Seasonal HCI marketing/promotional activities on LA owned spaces

(2) Voluntary engagements
  • Public–private partnerships between industry and local government (eg, joint ventures, concessions, grants, project-financed structure, outsourcing, leasing)

  • Cooperative arrangements (voluntary/coregulation/self-regulation, agreements and pledges)

  • Direct involvement in policy making and the local public health agenda (eg, meetings, local stakeholder consultations, petitions, working/technical/advisory groups/boards)

  • Provide input to local policy makers and attend workshops, and write/draft policies

  • Children Programme Primary Authority partnership between LAs and HFSS brands

  • LAs outsourcing Public Service contracts to third sector bodies

  • Voluntary LA joint project with HFSS food outlet to test a nudge intervention

(3) Other engagement strategies
  • Funding/financial incentives to local political parties, policy makers, legislators, groups (eg, donations, gifts)

  • Local policy makers taking/movement across posts in the industry—the ‘revolving door’

  • Establish relationships and network with decision-makers and key governmental persons, including use of the internet and social platforms ‘journo-lobbying’, for wider access

  • Employ adapted and reactive strategies and campaigns in response to local events/policy, such as shifting the corporation (jobs and consumers) to localities without restriction

  • Delay implementations of regulation/intervention locally and limit liability

  • Costs/consequences of policy compliance (all-encompassing local impact, for the LA, the local community), including time, money and business opportunities

  • LA and HCI memberships in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a fit and healthy childhood (the APPG)

  • LA awarding money to improve the appearance of a HFSS food outlet in the local area

Category 2: involvement through intermediaries (third parties)
(1) Contractual
  • Cobranding initiatives in the locality

  • Jobs and market created and contracted in the locality (eg, suppliers, construction)

  • Local cause-related marketing (profit funds towards an LA project, refurbishment, resource)

  • Health campaign events cobranded with unhealthy beverage industry

(2) Voluntary engagements
  • Funding of NGOs that work with the LA (charities, SMEs)

  • Support/sponsor locally (eg, health, arts, events, community-level initiatives, sport), contribute to/lead local programmes, information, curriculum, resources/technical support

  • Donations to local groups/community ‘worthy causes’ (develop, renovate)

  • Create local awareness groups, solution/therapy programmes, youth prevention

  • Community Alcohol Partnerships

  • LA investment portfolios and commercial borrowing

  • LA-HCI joint membership and funding on environmental, youth, food insecurity, neighbourhood schemes and community groups

  • UK charity partnership with HFSS brand to support children’s educational programmes

(3) Other engagement strategies
  • Placement of industry-friendly persons/advocates within local key influential NGOs

  • ‘Interlocking’ directorates/presence on board of directors, legal, PR/marketing firms and lobbyists across local industry

  • · Establish relationships with key opinion leaders and spokespersons in the local area

  • · Establish relationships with local media, PR associations, journalists, bloggers to communicate concerning LA issues

  • Local ‘pan-industry’ groups, multistakeholder networks, think-tanks (joining local industry)

  • Create local grassroots or fake—‘Astroturf’ organisations, front groups, forums

  • Research centres funded by HFSS industries

  • HFSS food Franchisee maintaining close connections with LA and the local community

  • Unhealthy beverage industry acquiring healthful brand and partnering with school campaigns in LA funded schools across the UK

Category 3: involvement through the local knowledge space
(1) Influence local health messages
  • Fund and co-opt researchers, scientists, academics, chairs, university programmes, ghost writers, institutions, foundations, consultants and spokespersons on public health matters

  • Maintain relationships with research funding councils to shape the research agenda (in terms of research questions and how to frame them, and priorities for funding)

  • Participate/host scientific events, preconferences and side events (eg, briefings)

  • Promotion of public health data and messages aligned with industry goals

  • Unhealthy beverage industry funding research foundations

  • Unhealthy beverage industry membership in health research ‘clubs’

  • Conference on healthy eating and physical activity partnered with unhealthy beverage industry

(2) Challenge the local public health narrative
  • Undermine those promoting alternative public health viewpoints (LA advocates, organisations, experts and key local spokespersons)

  • Reframe the LA intentions, create controversy (overprotective LA—‘nanny state’, coercive, commodity consumption is a personal choice/blame the victim)

  • Create antagonisms/rivalry between LA departments and professionals

  • Monitoring activities, operations and advocacy strategies of local public health functions

  • Gather intelligence of public attitudes, policy development and key persons

  • Advocate data favouring industry, and promote non-peer-reviewed, unpublished, or misleading/skewed information—‘junk science’

  • Manage information sources and availability of sources, through co-opted spokespersons

  • Seek to control local public health-related research not aligned with industry arguments

  • Change the frame of the LA narrative (emphasise doubt, disagreement, bias)

  • LA collaborative programme (JCDecaux UK and Outsmart) to ban HFSS food advertising from LA-owned advertising spaces

(3) CSR interactions (LA promotion of CSR)
  • LA promoting, endorsing, display support of initiatives with industry

  • LA promoting industry local initiatives (eg, environmental—‘greenwashing’)

  • Run campaigns with industry

  • Fund public health services (eg, school/hospital related CSR)

  • LA endorsing a campaign, including explicit link with unhealthy beverage industry

  • Unhealthy beverage industry and LA exclusive sponsorship of recycling bins in public spaces

  • LA promoting fast-food ‘good times’ summer activities programme

  • Industry primary sponsor of the Daily Mile

(4) CSR aligned with LA goals (HCIs presenting themselves as acting within the interests of LAs and communities)
  • Good traits of industry (individual and collective benefit/contributions to local area/society)

  • Revenue generated from rents, taxes, business rates

  • Draw on perceptions that industry expertise could reduce costs, raise quality, innovation, efficiency)

  • Industry is responsible/part of the solution—solving/actions to address public health issues (including problems they create)

  • · Shift responsibility away from HCI (focus on subpopulations, individual responsibility to consume according to industry recommendations, focus on other industries or events)

  • Emphasising localism and ‘place narrative’ of the brand/industry, links with local roots, elite circles and cultural patronage

    Locality integration—‘localisation’, aligning industry products with LA area desire/demand

  • Local workforce benefits (wages, health and safety, employee quality of life)

  • Gambling industry highlight £292 m in taxes in 2020

  • 'Project open’ personalised business support from unhealthy beverage industry

  • Tobacco industry campaigns against illicit trade, linking them with local police

  • HFSS industry Foundation funding community events and activities in LA

  • HFSS industry campaign to drive local purchasing, playing to their origins as a small business and high street partners

  • Gambling industry highlights the employment of around 100 000 people in the UK

  • Tobacco funding the Clean-up Britain campaign

  • Note: Some of the interactions may fall into more than one category or link with other themes (not mutually exclusive). Further information for each example interaction can be found in online supplemental table 7.

  • CSR, corporate social responsibility; HFSS, high in fat sugar and salt; LA, local authority; NGO, non-governmental organisations; PR, public relations; SME, small-to-medium-sized enterprise.