Network Report



Current Issues in Public Health Law

Health Information and Data Sharing: Learning to Ask the Right Questions

State and federal laws govern the use and sharing of health information and can vary wildly between jurisdictions, creating uncertainty for public health practitioners. Laws may or may not give public health agencies the legal authority to collect, access, or share information, depending on the conditions surrounding the use and sharing of the information. Knowing the right questions to ask is a critical first step. A new tool is available to help public health practitioners, public health attorneys and privacy officers in gathering relevant information to resolve questions about proposed data collection, access and sharing.

More about health data and legal tool.

New York City’s Flu Vaccination Requirement

Mandatory childhood vaccinations help curb the spread of diseases such as polio, measles and pertussis. The New York City Board of Health recently added another mandatory vaccination to their list, requiring children under age 5 in city-licensed preschools and day care centers to be vaccinated against seasonal flu starting in 2014 unless exempt for medical or religious reasons. The new requirement has sparked a national debate, but critical information about the public health impact of vaccinations often get lost in this debate.

Read more about mandatory vaccinations.

Publication: Public Health Law in a Nutshell

Authored by James G. Hodge, Director of the Network’s Western Region, Public Health Law in a Nutshell provides a modern framework supporting the role of law in the pivotal area of public health. The publication examines the legal issues underlying core public health powers to prevent communicable and chronic conditions like influenza, obesity, cancer, and heart disease; and explores the legal routes to address health threats, including tobacco and alcohol use, guns, vehicles, defective products, and the built environment.

View publication details.

50th Anniversary of the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health

Fifty years after the release of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health, remarkable progress has been made. Since 1964, smoking prevalence among U.S. adults has been reduced by half — thanks in large part to public health laws and policies that created smoke-free environments, warning labels and taxes on cigarettes. Unfortunately, tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the U.S. This month, the Surgeon General will release the 50th Anniversary Surgeon General’s Report (SGR) on Smoking and Health, which will highlight 50 years of progress in tobacco control and prevention, present new data on the health consequences of tobacco use, and detail initiatives that can end the tobacco use epidemic in the U.S.

Read more about the report and access related resources.

Ask the Experts:

Good Samaritan Food Donation Law

The Ohio Public Health Association recently contacted the Network for information about regulations that govern the donation of unused food by hotels and event centers to homeless shelters and other social service programs in need. Hotels and event centers frequently refuse to donate food, citing public health rules or hotel policies intended to avoid liability for any health problems caused by the donated food. The Network researched the issue and found that Ohio has a Good Samaritan food donation law that protects donors, including hotels, from liability.

Read about food donation law and view related resource.

Webinar: Bed Bugs — Legal Remedies to Eliminating a Community Health Problem

Bed bugs are a serious community health problem that affects people in all types of housing and at all income levels. In this webinar, experts will discuss the biology of bed bugs, potential legal remedies and their limitations, and the role of landlords, tenants, housing and public health officials and the wider community in preventing and eliminating bed bugs. Join us for this webinar on January 16 at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

Learn more Bed Bugs Webinar and register.

New Online Course: Legal Aspects of Public Health Food Safety

Developed by the Network and the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice, this online course examines the legal issues that arise in public health food safety, from surveillance and outbreak investigation, to restaurant inspections and detention of food. The course is available at no cost and includes information on a variety of food safety topics, including health privacy laws, food code, inspections, exclusion of infected employees, and procedural due process.

Learn more about Food Safety course.

Public Health Law Research

The effects laws have on public health issues such as prescription drug abuse, occupational health and safety, and distracted driving will be investigated in new research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research program. The grants will total nearly $1.1 million and will support nine short-term and time-sensitive studies. 

Read about PHLR funded projects.

From the Student Network

Webinar: Exploring and Understanding the Role of Public Health Law Research

Join the Student Network for an introductory webinar on public health law research, featuring Jennifer Ibrahim, Ph.D., M.P.H., a methods core member of Public Health Law Research at Temple University. Dr. Ibrahim will discuss public health law research methods and theory, as well as current challenges in the field and the resources available to address them.

Learn more and register for webinar.


FDA Tobacco Fellowship

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is offering mid-career professionals a unique opportunity to spend 12 months working in the Office of Regulations within FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. Fellows gain experience in analyzing legal, scientific, and policy issues. They actively participate in the development of science-based public health strategies and serve as the lead for defined projects, meet with policy leaders, and develop new competencies. Fellowship details here.


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