Building a consensus agenda on the use of law to protect and improve public health

Health policy change is a powerful tool that has been used to protect and improve the public's health. Many states and localities have adopted comprehensive smoke-free laws to limit exposure to secondhand smoke; most states have used the Model Turning Point Act to assess their existing public health laws and have enacted legislation or resolutions based on the Model Act; and some states and school boards have adopted laws and policies to encourage physical activity among school age children and to improve the nutritional value of foods and beverages that are available in schools. Unfortunately, there does not exist, as yet, a set of practical recommendations to build public health law competencies. In many jurisdictions, the legal resources devoted to public health are quite limited. Lawyers have little understanding of public health. Public health practitioners have limited knowledge of the law. Consequently, legal expertise is not readily available to support new public health initiatives. The lack of effective and sustained collaboration between the two disciplines adversely affects the ability of both professions to address public health concerns. In addition, the lack of communication linkages hampers support of dissemination of critical findings and practices to practitioners who advocate for health policy change. The overall goal of this collaborative project is to create an agenda for building public health law capacities at multiple levels and communication linkages that could provide a useful tool for health policy change. The deliverables for this project include: (1) three research papers examining opportunities to advance individual capacities in public health law, municipal and state-level capacities in public health law and opportunities to build public health law communication linkages; (2) a summit of public health law experts that coincides with the 2007 American Public Health Association (APHA) conference; and (3) a consensus document, based on the recommendations of the public health law summit participants in response to the three research papers, that outlines the practical steps needed to advance real-world collaborations in the public health law community.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $258,122.00

Awarded on: 1/30/2007

Time frame: 2/15/2007 - 12/31/2008

Grant Number: 59022


Public Health Law Association

P.O. Box 133122
Atlanta, 30333-3122


Martin P. Wasserman
Project Director