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Effective Law & Policy: Incorporating Equity at Every Stage

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
3:30 PM
4:45 PM
National Harbor 2-3


Law and policy are essentials tool for improving public health and addressing the social determinants of health. Laws, in the form of statutes or codes, ordinances, and administrative or agency rules, are a particularly potent type of policy because they have the power of government behind them. Laws are also powerful because they reflect and help to shape and reinforce social norms. The people choosing which laws/policies to work on, the language on the law/policy itself, the consequences of violating the law/policy, education around the law/policy, and the evaluation of the law/policy have a profound effect on society.

The law is a key force for equity and health equity, both for good and for ill. In the U.S., the law and equity have not gone hand in hand, especially when it comes to the social determinants of health. There are many reasons for the disconnect. This is especially true when it comes to laws and policies relating to commercial tobacco and other substance abuse and addictions.

Throughout the history of public health policy, communities, partners, and advocates have worked to identify unintended consequences of and gaps in laws and policy that contribute to health and other inequities. This presentation will address the need and how to identify, incorporate, and maintain equity in all stages of public health law and policy work so that it is effective.

This presentation will specifically incorporate examples of commercial tobacco policy, including language, penalties and exemptions. It will address the observable and improvable plans, services, partnership building, and action items required for health agencies/systems, governments, and communities to develop and enforce laws to actually improve public health. This means incorporating equity at every stage.

Learning Objectives

  1. As a result of this session, participants will have a general understanding of the Essential Public Health Law Services Framework.
  2. As a result of this session, participants will be better able to identify areas of equity consideration when working on commercial tobacco control education, community engagement, coalition building, policy drafting, implementation, and enforcement.
  3. As a result of this session, participants will have an understanding of how equity must be the foundation of law and policy in order to achieve public health.

30th Annual National Leadership Forum & SAMHSA's 16th Prevention Day


Natasha Phelps, J.D
Lead Senior Staff Attorney
Public Health Law Center