The United States and Canada regulate frearms, particularly handguns, quite differently. With only a few state and local exceptions, the U.S. approach emphasizes the ability of most individuals to purchase, possess, and carry handguns. By comparison, Canada has a form of restrictive licensing for handguns that places a premium on community safety. The authors first review the potential individual and community level harms and benefits associated with these differing fre-arm policies. Using this information, they explore the ethical dimensions of the (...) U.S. and Canadian approaches through three major themes of autonomy, prevention of harms, and social justice. The authors conclude that the Canadian approach is consistent with respect for the autonomy of persons, fosters the prevention of harms, and more appropriately furthers social justice. (shrink)
Since its inception in September 2010, the Network for Public Health Law has responded to hundreds of public health legal technical assistance claims from around the country. Based on a review of these data, a series of major trends in public health practice and the law are analyzed, including issues concerning: the Affordable Care Act, tobacco control, emergency legal preparedness, health information privacy, food policy, vaccination, drug overdose prevention, sports injury law, public health accreditation, and maternal breastfeeding. These and other (...) emerging themes in public health law demonstrate the essential role of law and practice in advancing the public's health. (shrink)
Television advertisements depicting the use of electronic cigarettes have recently exposed minors to images of smoking behaviors. While these advertisements are currently legal, existing laws should be interpreted or expanded to ban the commercial depiction of smoking behaviors with any product that resembles a cigarette to shield minors from potentially influential advertising.
Among multiple legal challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the premise that PPACA's “individual mandate” (requiring all individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014 or face civil penalties) is inviolate of Congress' interstate commerce powers because Congress lacks the power to regulate commercial “inactivity.” Several courts initially considering this argument have rejected it, but federal district courts in Virginia and Florida have concurred, leading to numerous appeals and prospective review of the United States Supreme Court. (...) Despite creative arguments, the dispositive constitutional question is not whether Congress' interstate commerce power extends to commercial inactivity. Rather, it is whether Congress may regulate individual decisions with significant economic ramifications in the interests of protecting and promoting the public's health. This article offers a counter-interpretation of the scope of Congress' interstate commerce power to regulate in furtherance of the public's health. (shrink)
Obesity is widely recognized as a preventable cause of death and disease. Reducing obesity among adults and children has become a national health goal in the United States. As one approach to the obesity epidemic, public health practitioners and others have asserted the need to provide consumers with information about the foods they eat. Some state and local governments across the United States have introduced menu labeling bills and regulations that require restaurants to post information, such as calorie content, for (...) foods offered on their menus or menu boards. A major dilemma is whether state and local menu labeling laws are preempted by the federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act . While few courts have addressed this issue, ongoing litigation in New York City provides an early glimpse of judicial interpretation in this area. This article explores these preemption issues, arguing that appropriately written and implemented menu labeling laws should not be preempted by the NLEA. We offer guidance for states and localities that wish to develop and implement menu labeling laws. (shrink)
Law is an essential tool for improving public health infrastructure and outcomes; however, existing state statutory public health laws may be insufficient. Built over decades in response to various diseases/conditions, public health laws are antiquated, divergent, and confusing. The Turning Point Public Health Statute Modernization National Collaborative addressed the need for public health law reform by producing a comprehensive model state act. The Act provides scientifically, ethically, and legally sound provisions on public health infrastructure, powers, duties, and practice. This article (...) examines how statutory law can be a tool for improving the public's health, existing needs for public health law reform, themes and provisions of the Turning Point Act, and how it is being used by public health practitioners. (shrink)
As conceptualized by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and its partners, a culture of health centers on a society in which health flourishes across all populations and sectors. Law, among other tools, is critical to advancing a culture of health across multiple arenas. In this manuscript, Network for Public Health Law colleagues illustrate how legal innovations at all levels of government contribute to societal health. Examples include modern laws that promote healthy and safe low-income housing, telemedicine reimbursement, paid sick and (...) safe time, healthy food and beverages, reduced smoking rates, child vaccinations, universal pre-k, adolescents' healthy sleep, overdose prevention, and medical-legal partnerships. (shrink)