Online Program

Think global, act local: Exploring the critical role of local law in achieving public health goals

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Jessica Berg, JD, MPH, Schools of Law and Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Scott Frank, MD, MS, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Ramsay Hoguet, JD, MPH, Case Western Reserve University, Brookline, MA
Public health law plays a crucial role in maintaining and promoting the health of populations. The broadly demonstrated and disproportionately large impact of policy on health behavior has led local governments to seek legal mechanisms to respond to emerging threats. Indoor smoking laws, trans fat bans, protections from food-borne illness, and creative application of nuisance laws are all examples of the way law may be used to affect public health. The study and use of law in a public health context is stymied by a lack of various resources. Health Departments are underfunded, and many municipal departments have no legal resources or direct access to legal advisers. Yet, there are key examples—e.g., Clean Indoor Air legislation—of the value of local efforts that subsequently expand to state, national and even international implementation. Perhaps the most effective way for local health departments to influence state and national policy is to demonstrate the effectiveness of local policies through implementation within and across local jurisdictions. Broad comparisons of local law, however, may be impossible given poor or non-existent online access to comparable materials from many or most local jurisdictions, even within a single state. The same paucity of resources which limits discovery of local public health laws also limits dissemination of innovative public health law efforts when they do occur. Any mechanism that allows comparison and dissemination public health laws across jurisdictions represents an opportunity for health improvement. We explore how local health departments develop laws, and mechanisms to facilitate and disseminate best practices.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify the barriers to accessing local public health laws. Explore the ways in which local public health departments develop law. Discuss mechanisms to facilitate the creation of best practices in local public health law.

Keyword(s): Law, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: While earning my MPH I performed much of the initial data gathering for this presentation. My research focused on qualitative interviews with county and municipal public health office officials in Ohio, as well as initial gathering of locally issued public health regulations. I researched the legal structure and duties of Ohio's health authorities. In addition to my MPH, I hold a JD with concentration in health law.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.