What is the Scope, Focus and Impact of Public Health Ordinances?

Expanding the ability of practitioners and scholars to assess law as a tool to improve public health

From December 2007 to May 2010, a research team led by Kristine M. Gebbie, DrPH, RN, and James G. Hodge Jr., JD, LLM, documented the scope, breadth and content of local public health ordinances, such as garbage collection and disposal and animal control, and developed a blueprint for drafting these ordinances.

Project staff described the range and subjects of local public health ordinances in 37 exemplar jurisdictions and identified 22 common subject areas for these ordinances. They also developed a blueprint for drafting local public health ordinances, Components of Local Ordinances to Protect and Promote the Public's Health.

Key Findings:

  • The public health areas most commonly regulated by local governments are garbage collection and disposal, animal control and sewer systems.
  • Population size appears to be a factor in the choice of public health issues addressed by municipal ordinances.
  • The scope of regulation of any particular public health topic varies widely across jurisdictions.

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