individuals and organizations for the protection of the community

It says in your text that public health organizations, particularly at the state level, have the power to “coerce” individuals and organizations for the protection of the community, e.g., restriction of indoor smoking, licensing of restaurants, etc.

There are certain laws, such as those banning indoor smoking, that can easily be defended as being in the best interest of the public because the risk to the public health clearly outweighs the rights of an individual. Smoking in an enclosed public place is a situation where the actions of an individual (smoker) are having a DIRECT negative impact on the group (non-smokers). 

A couple of years ago, NYC enacted a law that prohibits smoking in parks, on beaches, or in public plazas. Supporters of the law contended the law protects the public health while critics contend that it infringes upon civil liberties and there is no danger from second hand smoke in open places such as these. Some have argued that distracted driving via cell phone use/texting or the exhaust fumes of all of the cars and buses in NYC poses a far greater danger to the public health than smelling a whiff of smoke while outdoors. In other words, they contend there is no direct negative impact on the public from outdoor smoking.

Use what you have read about public health law to support your response to the following:

1.     If you support bans such as this, what argument do you use to justify your position?  If your stance is to go even further and propose a total ban on all smoking (making smoking illegal), do you support banning everything that poses a risk to the public health and/or safety? If not, how do you justify banning one risk to the public health and safety while choosing not to ban something else?

2.     If you do not think this ban (or similar) should have been enacted, what argument would you use to justify your position?

3.     If you see merit to both sides, can you describe a potential compromise that would benefit public health while preserving individual rights?  


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