Law and Healthy Lifestyles (LAWS6848)


This unit responds to growing interest in the law's response to tobacco use, obesity, poor diet, alcohol abuse and sedentary lifestyle - the leading causes of preventable disease in Australia, the United States, and increasingly, in developing economies. Cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and tobacco-related diseases are society's greatest killers, but what can law do - and what should it be doing - to prevent and control them? Although law's relationship with the behavioural risk factors for these non-communicable diseases (or NCDs) is complex and contested, governments are experimenting with a wide range of legal strategies to encourage healthier lifestyles. This unit focuses on developments in Australia and the United States, and places legal developments in these countries within an international context. The aim of this course is to equip students with conceptual skills to think powerfully about law's role in the prevention of NCDs and their risk factors, and to participate effectively in debates about appropriate, workable, legal and regulatory interventions. Through a comparative approach that draws on legal responses to NCDs in both Australia and the United States, students will explore the tension between personal responsibility and freedom, and the broader public interest in a healthy population and a productive economy. Key topics include: Frameworks for thinking about law, and environments that support healthier lifestyles; Global health governance and the prevention of non-communicable diseases; Tobacco control: where to from here? Personal responsibility for health, and law's role; Regulating alcohol; Obesity prevention; and Law's role in improving diet and nutrition, and encouraging active living. Throughout the unit, students will be encouraged to critically evaluate the success of the strategies law adopts to protect and promote public health, to explore new strategies that law might adopt, and to reflect on the tension between the public interest in protecting health, and competing interests.

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Intro Class: Mar 10 (6-8) then Mar 12-14 & Apr 4 (9-5)


one short response question (20%) and 6000wd essay (80%) or one short response question (20%), 3000-3500wd essay (40%) and one take-home exam question (40%) or one short response question (20%) and two 3000-3500wd essays (80%)


Useful references include: Christopher Reynolds, Public and Environmental Health Law, Federation Press, 2011 [Australia focus] and Lawrence O. Gostin, Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint, University of California Press, 2nd ed, 2008 [US focus]

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