A 'Multiple Lenses' Approach to Policy Change: The Case of Tobacco Policy in the UK

Paul Alexander Cairney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines a period of rapid policy change following decades of stability in UK tobacco. It seeks to account for such a long period of policy stability, to analyse and qualify the extent of change, and to explain change using a 'multiple lenses' approach. It compares the explanatory value of policy network models such as punctuated equilibrium and the advocacy coalition framework, with models stressing change from 'above and below' such as multi-level governance and policy transfer. A key finding is that the value of these models varies according to the narrative of policy change that we select. The article challenges researchers to be careful about assuming the nature of policy change before embarking on explanation. While the findings of the case study may vary with other policy areas in British politics, the call for clarity and lessons from multiple approaches are widely applicable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-68
Number of pages24
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • tobacco policy
  • advocacy coalitions
  • punctuated equilibrium
  • multi-level governance
  • policy transfer
  • multiple streams


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