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Comparative national public health legislation 

Comparative national public health legislation
Comparative national public health legislation

Robyn Martin

and Alexandra Lo Dak Wai

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date: 19 May 2022

Law is an important tool in containment of communicable and non-communicable disease. International instruments require states to undertake measures which require legal underpinning. However, the meaning of ‘law’, and understandings of the extent to which the state can intervene in private life for the benefit of public health, differ across states. In some legal cultures, law is to be found in a form other than legislation, making difficult a comparison of state legislation. This chapter will examine limitations to a world comparison of public health legislation, and consider representative national laws from Western and Asian legal cultures in relation to three public health threats—communicable disease, tobacco harms, and obesity—to analyse ways in which law can play a part in global public health. The legislation discussed in the course of this chapter is that in force in December 2007.

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