Connecticut Law Review Volume 46 - Issue 5

Public Health Regulation and the Limits of Paternalism

This Article explores the role of paternalism in regulatory efforts to improve public health, focusing mostly on obesity, but also accounting for recent developments in other public health arenas. First, the Article describes a spectrum of interventions that regulators can implement in the public health zone, ranging from soft paternalism to hard paternalism. Second, the […]

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Beyond Paternalism: Rethinking the Limits of Public Health Law

This response to David Friedman’s Public Health Regulation and the Limits of Paternalism challenges his claim that the rejection of paternalism creates a “limit” on public health law’s potential for addressing the obesity epidemic and offers a defense of public health laws as exercises of self-governance. The Article begins by showing why many of the […]

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Three Comments on Paternalism in Public Health

This Article offers three critical observations concerning the debates surrounding paternalism in public health. First, the assessment of paternalistic health-promoting policies stops at efficacy considerations and fails to consider the possibility that such policies may infringe basic rights. Second, discussions on health and paternalism are not sufficiently context-specific, as they tend to classify policies according […]

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Paternalism, Public Health, and Behavioral Economics: A Problematic Combination

Many critiques of public health regulations assume that measures directed at industry should be considered paternalistic whenever they limit any consumer choices. Given the presumption against paternalistic measures, this definition of paternalism puts government proposals to regulate industry to the same stringent proof as clearly paternalistic proposals to directly regulate individuals for their own benefit. […]

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Personal Health in the Public Domain: Reconciling Individual Rights with Collective Responsibilities

This Article defends a more robust conception of public health paternalism than that proposed by Professor Friedman, one that goes beyond the use of “soft” paternalism or nudges. Public health, and the government in general, help influence the choices people make in their daily lives through a multitude of mechanisms. Whenever possible, public health professionals […]

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Limiting Liberty to Prevent Obesity: Justifiability of Strong Hard Paternalism in Public Health Regulation

Because of the largely self-regarding nature of obesity, many current and proposed public health regulatory measures are paternalistic. That is, these measures interfere with a person’s liberty with the primary goal of improving that person’s own welfare. Paternalistic public health measures may be effective in reducing obesity. They may even be the only sufficiently effective […]

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Sugary Drinks, Happy Meals, Social Norms, and the Law: The Normative Impact of Product Configuration Bans

What role should government play in discouraging harmful overconsumption? What modes of government intervention best strike the balance between effectiveness and political acceptability? It is well established that government has a legitimate interest in protecting the health and safety of the people, even from their own choices and actions. Furthermore, there is no fundamental right […]

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Cigarettes vs. Soda?: The Argument for Similar Public Health Regulation of Smoking and Obesity

While smoking and obesity may have nuanced differences as public health problems, this Article briefly argues that those differences should not pose an obstacle to certain paternalistic attempts to regulate them similarly. Specifically, observed successes in reducing smoking through taxation, labeling requirements, and advertising bans could likewise prove successful in reducing obesity.

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The Limits of Anti-Obesity Public Health Paternalism: Another View

This Article critiques Professor David Friedman’s article, Public Health Regulation and the Limits of Paternalism, and sets forth an alternative view of the limits of anti-obesity public health paternalism. Specifically, it critiques Friedman’s classification of public health interventions based on how coercive the intervention is, and offers an alternative construct to analyze paternalistic public health […]

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“The Soldier Bears the Deepest Wounds and Scars of War”: Mobilizing Connecticut to Implement a Veterans Treatment Court

The first Veterans Treatment Court (“VTC”) opened in 2004 and aimed to help veterans who ran afoul of the law. These problem-solving courts not only serve to treat the underlying issues many veterans suffer post-military service, but also hold veterans accountable. As a consequence of their incredible results, there are now over one hundred VTCs […]

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