Wielding the Law as a Weapon

A doctor realized he needed legal training to fight for public health.

, The National Law Journal


A doctor realized he needed legal training to fight for public health.

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What's being said

  • Dadzrites

    It would behoove the legal industry to begin taking a long, hard look at family law. That is the cause of much of societal breakdown and costs the economy anywhere from $100 Billion-$250 Billion in lost productivity and revenue (depending upon who you talk to). The destruction of families is counterproductive to society and needs a re-vamp or complete overhaul to stop the bloodletting that causes financial and emotional destruction to the economy and society.

  • Public Interest Law Professor John Banzhaf

    There is no better modern example of how legal action can be a powerful weapon against a major public health problem than with smoking. This includes:

    * my own legal action which forced radio and TV stations to make hundreds of millions of dollars worth of time available free for antismoking messages, which in turn causes the first decline in smoking, something the earlier Surgeon General's report wasn't able to do, and then led to the ban on cigarette commercials;

    * the legal action my law students brought which established no-smoking sections on airplanes, which in turn spread and then led to restrictions and than bans on smoking in workplaces and public places both here and abroad;

    * tort actions which forced big tobacco to pay out over a quarter of a TRILLION dollars (and raise cigarette prices accordingly), as well as kill off Joe Camel, cigarette billboards, and the Tobacco Institute;

    * suits establishing the right of private companies, as well as governmental bodies, to refuse to employ smokers;

    * legal actions under various theories to protect sensitive nonsmokers in many situations, nonsmokers in apartments, as well as children in homes and cars;

    * surcharges on health insurance premiums for nonsmokers, a principle now embodied in the Affordable Care Act;

    * and the first world antismoking and nonsmokers' rights treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [FCTC]

    As a result of all of these actions and many more, smoking rates have been slashed, with millions of lives and billions of dollars saved.

    The same thing is now beginning to happen with regard to obesity, with ten fat law suits already successful, significant changes being made by fast food and other food and drink companies, and with legal actions leading the way towards legislation (as with Brown v Board of Ed and the PARC cases), such as in this case requiring the posting of calories in major chain restaurants.

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