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Open Access Policy windows and multiple streams: an analysis of alcohol pricing policy in England

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This article adopts a multiple streams approach to examine the failure to implement minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in England. It demonstrates that the multiple streams model provides a valuable conceptual tool for explaining how and why policies are, and are not, enacted. However, it finds that while problem streams and policy streams are useful heuristic devices, in practice they may overlap and be mutually constitutive. The case of MUP also highlights the potential for policy spillover between jurisdictions and different policy contexts, showing both limits to, and the complex nature of, these processes. It shows the need for high level political commitment in order to implement controversial policies, even when they are backed by strong supporting evidence. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of civil society actors not just in bringing policy issues onto the agenda, but in supporting governments in adopting measures to address them.

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Keywords: alcohol policy; industry actors; minimum unit pricing; multi-level governance; multiple streams approach; policy divergence; policy entrepreneurs; policy windows; public health

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK 2: University of York, UK

Publication date: April 2020

This article was made available online on December 12, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "Policy windows and multiple streams: an analysis of alcohol pricing policy in England".

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