Brooke Torton, J.D., is Senior Staff Attorney, Eastern Region and Managing Director for the Legal Resource Center for Public Health Policy (LRC). Brooke’s current work focuses on tobacco law and policy and threats aimed at public health officials and public health authority.

At LRC, Brooke develops toolkits and policy papers on specific issues, drafts legislation, conducts in-person and virtual training sessions for public health professionals, and generally supports the development of public health law. She also supervises students enrolled in the Clinical Law Program working on public health law projects, students working as externs for the LRC or the Network and research assistants for the two centers.

Brooke graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in Psychology in 2009. In 2012, she graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, where she served as Co-President of the Maryland Public Interest Law Project (MPILP) and Executive Symposium Editor for the Maryland Law Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class. Subsequent to graduation and prior to her employment with the Network, Brooke worked as a judicial law clerk followed by three years of litigation in criminal and domestic law

Articles & Resources

­Public Health Authority in Maryland

Fact SheetPublic Health AuthorityMaryland

February 20, 2024
by Brooke Torton

Backlash to public health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the passing of bills designed to curb state and local public health authority. Many of these bills misconstrued critical definitions, legal concepts, and sources of law, while also conflating the roles of the branches of government. This fact sheet provides definitions of legal concepts, clarifying information of the roles of certain government officials with a focus on the source and breadth of public health authority granted to the County Health Officers and local Boards of Health in Maryland.

View page

The FDA’s Proposed Rules Prohibiting Menthol in Cigarettes and All Characterizing Flavors in Cigars Will Advance Public Health and Health Equity

Law & Policy InsightsMechanisms for Advancing Health EquityMechanisms for Advancing Public Health

June 1, 2022
by Brooke Torton

Big Tobacco has historically targeted youth, the LGBTQ+ community, and African Americans with tailored marketing campaigns for menthol tobacco products. Menthol is a flavor additive that reduces the harshness and irritation of smoking, and enhances the addictive effects of nicotine in the brain. Similarly, it increases the chances that youth who begin smoking will habitually use these products. On April 28 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took an important step toward advancing health equity by announcing two proposed rules that will reduce tobacco-related health disparities.

Read more

Legal Protections for Public Health Officials During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Resource CollectionLegal Protections for Public Health OfficialsPublic Health Authority

January 25, 2021
by Brooke Torton

Nationwide, state and local public health officials working to protect the public from COVID-19 are on the receiving end of threatening and harassing conduct for simply fulfilling their duty to protect the public health. In response, the Network conducted research to examine whether the states and Washington, D.C., have criminal statutes punishing individuals who impede public health officials’ duties with such behavior.

View page

Judicial Trends in Public Health 2020: Year in Review

WebinarsJudicial Trends in Public Health

January 19, 2021
by Brooke Torton, James G. Hodge, Jr., Jennifer Piatt, Kathleen Hoke, Kerri McGowan Lowrey, Leila Barraza, Mathew Swinburne and Sarah Wetter

Join Network attorneys as they highlight their top choices for pivotal, influential judicial decisions over the past year on topics including emergency legal preparedness, religious freedoms, reproductive rights, food insecurity, health justice, and the future of the ACA.

View page

Key Public Health Initiatives: A Year in Review

WebinarsHealth ReformFood Safety and SecurityInjury Prevention and SafetySubstance Use Prevention and Harm Reduction

December 13, 2018
by Brooke Torton, Kathleen Hoke, Kerri McGowan Lowrey and Mathew Swinburne

Among the most pressing public health issues of 2018, access to healthcare, electronic nicotine delivery systems, injury prevention, and food insecurity saw significant legislation and policy impacts. In this webinar, subject matter experts will recap how four important public health initiatives—expansion of scope of practice; regulation of electronic nicotine delivery systems; traumatic brain injury prevention; and food insecurity and SNAP—were impacted in 2018.

View page