Five Smart Policies for Improving Public Health

The laws passed by federal and state politicians have great impact on public health. Here are five smart policies government can employ to improve the state of health in the US.

1) Tax Soda

A penny per ounce tax on soda will cut obesity, decrease medical problems, and pay for better school lunches. Nice NY Times review http://nyti.ms/8YTX6y

2) Ratify the International Tobacco Treaty

168 countries have signed and ratified the international Tobacco Treaty. The US has signed the treaty but not ratified it. The Treaty puts a number of sensible limits on tobacco sales and marketing. Time to send the treaty to the Senate! A Change.org “top ten” idea 2010. http://bit.ly/ahuMTz

3) Return Speed Limit to 55 MPH

The lifting of the 55 mph speed limit in 1995 has resulted in over 12,000 additional deaths – more than Iraq, Afghanistan and 9/11 combined. Higher speeds also burn way more fuel. Freakonomics blog: http://nyti.ms/9NRmEq

4) Regulate Fast Food Restaurants Through Zoning Laws

In an effort to improve public health, L.A. now regulates fast food restaurants within certain zones. NY Times “best of 2008” idea. http://bit.ly/7EZK4o

5) Regulate Thirdhand Smoke

We all know about the dangers of secondhand smoke, but what about all of the smoke residue and toxins that settle on our clothing, furniture and walls (“thirdhand smoke”)? http://www.nytimes.com/projects/magazine/ideas/2009/#t

To comment or vote on these (or other) ideas – or add your own! – visit Good Ideas.

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