Personal Freedoms vs. Health

Katie Sloter

Katie Sloter

Hello all. In between trying to figure out internships, studying for midterms, and figuring out the next month (nay! year! nay! 10 years!) of life, I am pausing to write. And pose questions of course. In the ring today I would like to introduce Personal Freedoms vs.  Health Laws. They are often the subject of public and political attentions.

I am curious as to where you think the lines should be between personal freedoms and paternalistic laws. I have had many a heated discussion about this particular issue, and am curious as to what you think.

An example of a paternalistic law is that of making it illegal NOT to wear your seatbelt. The purpose of this law is to protect the person driving. Another example of a paternalistic law  is the Smokefree Air Act, and it was mandated in my home state, Iowa, in 2008. This is a ban on smoking throughout Iowa, and was largely driven by a former professor of mine, Christopher Squier. A recent report shows a 24 percent decrease in hospital admissions since its implementation.

What do you think? Would you consider laws such as the Smokefree Air Act to be a great success for public health, or is its limits on personal choice disturbing to you? Is there ever a point in which personal freedoms are far too restricted in the name of health, or is it always right if it is beneficial to the population as a whole?

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