Role of Government

Guided Discussion and Paper on the Role of the Government in Promoting Health and Healthy Behaviors.
Background: Federal and state governments have a long history of taking actions that will help people to maintain health and safety. Government intervention may include:

1. Promote access to health information. This includes laws that require that labels reflect accurate information about ingredients and/or health benefits (or risks). Warnings on tobacco and alcohol packaging are good examples.
2. Protect people from harm caused by individuals or groups. This includes things like laws prohibiting driving while intoxicated, laws designed to enhance workplace safety, and laws to ensure that the food supply is safe.

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3. Promote health through actions designed to make groups of people safer, such as mandatory immunizations before enrolling in school, and laws requiring water fluoridation.
4. The government may tax goods or services in an attempt to make them less attractive to consumers. For instance, there are high taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. Taxes on “sugar-sweetened beverages” have been passed in several cities. Collectively, these are often referred to as “sin” taxes.
5. The government can also pass laws to penalize people or businesses who engage in risky behaviors. For instance: seat belt laws, speed limit laws, underage drinking laws, laws about mandatory safety features (ex: airbags in cars), helmet laws.

Each numbered question should be on its own page.

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