Lesson-drawing in tobacco control: A qualitative study of stakeholder perceptions in five North-Western European countries

T.G. Kuijpers*, A.E. Kunst, M.C. Willemsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


INTRODUCTION The theory of ‘family of nations’ posits that countries draw policy lessons predominantly from similar countries. Lesson-drawing in tobacco control has, however, been primarily studied in the ‘English-speaking’ family. We examined in five diverse North-Western European countries whether the government engages in lesson-drawing regarding best practices in tobacco control, which countries they look at for guidance, and why these were chosen as a reference. METHODS Perceptions of 29 policy participants from civil society and government were assessed by means of interviews conducted in Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Relevant excerpts were grouped according to country and a bottom-up thematic analysis was performed. RESULTS The tobacco control instruments described by the policy participants were tobacco marketing bans (display ban and plain packaging) and smoke-free policies. German interviewees stated that the German federal government is not inclined to engage in foreign lesson-drawing. All other governments were perceived to look at Australia for lessons because of its global leadership in tobacco control. At the same time however, lessons from Australia were easily dismissed because it is an ‘island’ and far away. Irish interviewees observed their government to primarily look at other English-speaking countries. Governments in Belgium, Finland and the Netherlands were observed to primarily look at nearby European countries for lessons. CONCLUSIONS Countries in North-Western Europe seem to draw policy lessons based on proximity and similarity to other countries concerning marketing bans and smokefree policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Number of pages9
JournalTobacco prevention & cessation
Issue numberApril
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • advocacy lesson-drawing policy
  • learning family of nations
  • tobacco control


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