Parliamentary reaction to the announcement and implementation of the UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy: applied thematic analysis of 2016-2020 parliamentary debates.

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Lawlor, Emma R 
Forde, Hannah 
van Tulleken, Dolly Rz 
Cummins, Steven 

OBJECTIVE: The UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) (announced in March 2016; implemented in April 2018) aims to incentivise reformulation of soft drinks to reduce added sugar levels. The SDIL has been applauded as a policy success, and it has survived calls from parliamentarians for it to be repealed. We aimed to explore parliamentary reaction to the SDIL following its announcement until two years post-implementation in order to understand how health policy can become established and resilient to opposition. DESIGN: Searches of Hansard for parliamentary debate transcripts that discussed the SDIL retrieved 186 transcripts, with 160 included after screening. Five stages of Applied Thematic Analysis were conducted: familiarisation and creation of initial codebooks; independent second coding; codebook finalisation through team consensus; final coding of the dataset to the complete codebook; and theme finalisation through team consensus. SETTING: The United Kingdom Parliament. PARTICIPANTS: N/A. RESULTS: Between the announcement (16/03/2016) - royal assent (26/04/2017), two themes were identified 1: SDIL welcomed cross-party 2: SDIL a good start but not enough. Between royal assent - implementation (5/04/2018), one theme was identified 3: The SDIL worked - what next? The final theme identified from implementation until 16/03/2020 was 4: Moving on from the SDIL. CONCLUSIONS: After the announcement, the SDIL had cross-party support and was recognised to have encouraged reformulation prior to implementation. Lessons for governments indicate that the combination of cross-party support and a policy's documented success in achieving its aim can help cement the resilience of it to opposition and threats of repeal.

Government, Health policy, Parliament, Political debate, Soft Drinks Industry Levy, Sugar tax, Humans, Taxes, Carbonated Beverages, United Kingdom, Health Policy, Sugars
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Public Health Nutr
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Cambridge University Press (CUP)
MRC (MC_UU_00006/7)
NIHR Evaluation Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (16/49/01)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (PHR Project: 16/49/01)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (16/130/01)