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In June 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced his plans for a ban on the sale of sugary beverages in containers larger than 16 ounces. Shortly thereafter, the Center for Consumer Freedom took out a full-page ad in the New York Times featuring Bloomberg photo-shopped into a matronly dress with the tag line “New Yorkers need a Mayor, not a Nanny.” On television, the CATO Institute's Michael Cannon declared, “This is the most ridiculous sort of nanny state-ism; [i]t’s none of the mayor's business how much soda people are drinking.” And in newspapers around the country, editorial pages featured headlines such as “Gulp! Yet Another Intrusion of the Nanny State.” Just like that, the public debate about this measure became focused on government overreach, while the public health problem of obesity (and of overconsumption of soda in particular) faded into the background.
The Tobacco Control Legal Consortium is a national “network” designed to tap expertise about tobacco control legislation and to leverage existing resources. Based at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, the Consortium supports local counsel with research, strategic advice, sample materials and pleadings, and amicus briefs. The Consortium’s priorities are to support capacity nationally, to offer education, and to perform outreach activities to a variety of audiences.
The Consortium seeks to advance policy change by making legal expertise more readily available to the tobacco control community. Legal issues are inevitably involved in policy change. The Consortium does not provide legal representation, but conducts analysis and research. They publish on important and emerging legal issues as well as on specific cases, assist in the development of legislation, and train public health practitioners and policy makers on recurring legal issues.
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