Local Venues for Change: Legal Strategies for Healthy Environments


  • Marice Ashe,

    1. Director of the Public Health Law Program (PHLP), where she manages long-term strategic planning for all of its projects and guides their daily activities.
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  • Lisa M. Feldstein,

    1. Senior Policy Director for PHLP's Land Use and Health program and has focused on affordable housing and land use issues for nearly 15 years.
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  • Samantha Graff,

    1. Staff attorney focusing on emerging issues in tobacco and infectious disease control.
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  • Randolph Kline,

    1. Staff attorney specializing in product regulation, land use/zoning, enforcement, and First Amendment and marketing issues around public health.
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  • Debora Pinkas,

    1. Staff attorney currently focusing on improving access to physical activity and nutritious foods/beverages in California public schools, and reducing or eliminating the advertising of non-nutritious foods and beverages in school campuses.
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  • Leslie Zellers

    1. Legal Director of the Technical Assistance Legal Center (TALC) where she oversees all aspects of the program's work.
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Mounting evidence documents the extraordinary toll on human health resulting from the consumption of unhealthy food products and physical inactivity. In response to America's growing obesity problem, local policymakers have been looking for legal strategies that can be adopted in their communities to encourage healthful behaviors. In order to provide practical tools to policymakers, this article examines four possible venues for local policy change to improve the health of a community: (1)the school environment (2)the built environment () community facilities and (4)the point of sale environment. Finally, the article examines the use of taxes or fees as a means of paying for nutrition policy work as well as potentially reducing the consumption of unhealthy products. This article illustrates that local laws and policies can be a valuable tool in changing a community's environment in order to improve nutritional options and increase opportunities for physical activity.