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Banning shisha smoking in public places in Iran: an advocacy coalition framework perspective on policy process and change

Abstract : Introduction - Shisha smoking is a widespread custom in Iran with a rapidly growing prevalence especially among the youth. In this article, we analyze the policy process of enforcing a federal/state ban on shisha smoking in all public places in Kerman Province, Iran. Guided by the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF), we investigate how a shisha smoking ban reached the political agenda in 2011, how it was framed by different policy actors, and why no significant breakthrough took place despite its inclusion on the agenda.Methods - We conducted a qualitative study using a case study approach. Two main sources of data were employed: face-to-face in-depth interviews and document analysis of key policy texts. We interviewed 24 policy actors from diverse sectors. A qualitative thematic framework, incorporating both inductive and deductive analyses, was employed to analyze our data.Results - We found that the health sector was the main actor pushing the issue of shisha smoking onto the political agenda by framing it as a public health risk. The health sector and its allies advocated enforcement of a federal law to ban shisha smoking in all public places including teahouses and traditional restaurants whereas another group of actors opposed the ban. The pro-ban group was unable to neutralize the strategies of the anti-ban group and to steer the debate towards the health harms of shisha smoking. Our analysis uncovers three main reasons behind the policy stasis: lack of policy learning due to lack of agreement over evidence and related analytical conflicts between the two groups linked to differences in core and policy beliefs; the inability of the pro-ban group to exploit opportunities in the external policy subsystem through generating stronger public support for enforcement of the shisha smoking ban; and the nature of the institutional setting, in particular the autocratic governance of CHFS which contributed to a lack of policy learning within the policy subsystem.Conclusions - Our research demonstrated the utility of ACF as a theoretical framework for analyzing the policy process and policy change to promote tobacco control. It shows the importance of accounting for policy actors' belief systems and issue-framing in understanding how some issues get more prominence in the policy-making process than others. Our findings further indicate a need for significant resources employed by the state through public awareness campaigns to change public perceptions of shisha smoking in Iran which is a deeply anchored cultural practice.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - 10:06:06 AM
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Akram Khayatzadeh-Mahani, Eric Breton, Arne Ruckert, Ronald Labonte. Banning shisha smoking in public places in Iran: an advocacy coalition framework perspective on policy process and change. Health Policy and Planning, 2017, 32 (6), pp.835-846. ⟨10.1093/heapol/czx015⟩. ⟨hal-01586046⟩

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