July 12, 2022


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as chronic respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and some cancers, are the leading cause of deaths and premature deaths globally. This is particularly evident in the Caribbean region which has the highest NCD mortality rates in the Americas with seven of these countries having rates above 583.5 per 100,000 population, a situation which has been exacerbated the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The consumption of unhealthy food, the harmful use of alcohol and the use of tobacco are major risk factors for NCDs and for over a decade the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been urging States around the world to adopt and implement legal interventions to improve people’s diets, as well as to discourage alcohol and tobacco use. The recommended interventions include, but are not limited to, requirements on packaging and labelling, restrictions on marketing and advertisement, the adoption of fiscal measures (i.e., taxation), the regulation of school environments and smoke-free spaces.

The Caribbean region was a pioneer in recognizing the need to tackle NCDs and their linkage to the broader sustainable development agenda. In 2007 the Conference of the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) adopted the historic Declaration of Port-of-Spain which called for a whole-of-society, whole-of-government response to the region’s alarming NCD rates. Since then, there have been some attempts to implement various legal interventions. This included the adoption of some strong tobacco control measures in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Guyana. Most recently, Barbados adopted a 20% excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages (doubling the initial 10% tax adopted in 2015). However, overall progress has been very slow and the region is yet to make headway with significantly reducing its NCD prevalence. As is the case globally, interference by the food, alcohol, and tobacco industries remains a major obstacle to meaningful progress within the region.

Against this background, the Caribbean Law Review plans to publish a special issue on “Unhealthy Food, Alcohol, Tobacco and the Law” in the Spring/Summer of 2023. The Caribbean Law Review (CLR) is the Cave Hill Faculty of Law’s flagship publication. Nurturing the region’s legal intellect since 1991, it is recognized as an iconic Caribbean legal artefact, promoting doctrinal and critical scholarship alike, as well as practical legal analysis. The goal of this special issue is to take stock of the current state of NCD risk factor regulation and highlight the challenges and potential solutions associated with the adoption or implementation of recommended legal interventions related to these products.

We are seeking articles of between 6,000 – 8,000 words or shorter commentaries that analyze, from a legal perspective, the regulation of unhealthy food, alcohol, and tobacco. Contributions that focus on requirements for packaging and labelling, restrictions on marketing and advertisement, the regulation of school environments and/or establishment of smoke-free spaces, the regulation of corporate social responsibility, the relationship between food, alcohol, and tobacco and the environment, and lessons learned from COVID-19 on the relationship between food, alcohol, and tobacco regulation and the law will be prioritized. Note, however, that contributions may focus on any relevant area of law, including, but not limited to, international human rights law, other legal human rights frameworks, regional law, constitutional law, administrative law, consumer law, intellectual property law, corporate law, tax law, trade law, anti-trust law, and environmental law. While this special issue targets the Caribbean region, we welcome comparative contributions that review the progress (or lack thereof) in other regions that experience similar challenges.

The special issue will be co-edited by Nicole Foster (University of the West Indies – Cave Hill) and Isabel Barbosa (O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University).

Provided the COVID-19 pandemic allows it, we would like to host a preparatory workshop at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus (Barbados) for invited and selected participants. Travel bursaries will be available for participants who need them.

The tentative timeline is:

  • Abstracts due: August 15, 2022
  • Selection of contributors: end of August 2022
  • Preparatory workshop: during the week 12-14 October 2022
  • Submission of the full paper: February 2023
  • Publication: spring/summer 2023

To submit your proposal for this special issue, please complete this form by August 15, including:

  • An extended abstract of 500-800 words, which details the main arguments that your paper will tackle, as well as the methodology you will use.
  • A short CV (1-2 pages)

For any questions or concern, please send an email to: lhru@cavehill.uwi.edu.