Navigation Links
Many Americans Ambivalent Over Laws Aimed at Healthy Living
Date:3/21/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- With a recent flood of new regulations or proposals aimed at governing lifestyle choices such as smoking, eating or cellphone use, is the United States in danger of becoming a "nanny state"?

According to a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, most Americans remain ambivalent about the issue, agreeing that policies that aim to protect public health and safety are sometimes necessary, but believing as well that adults should take responsibility for their own actions, and consequences for health.

In the online survey of more than 2,200 U.S. adults conducted in late February, 81 percent of respondents agreed and 33 percent strongly agreed that laws aimed at protecting public safety -- for example, regulations concerning safe driving or childhood vaccinations -- are important to keeping Americans safe.

More than three-quarters also agreed that such initiatives do actually work.

But on the other hand, almost two-thirds (61 percent) worried that these same laws might be too coercive, impeding individual freedoms.

"The public is somewhat schizophrenic about laws and policies that are intended to improve health and safety and reduce injuries and accidents," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. "Most people favor many regulations that protect them but they worry about our becoming a 'nanny state.' "

Pollsters quizzed respondents on 14 different policies, laws and programs intended to improve health and safety.

"Most of the 14 policies, programs and regulations in our survey are supported by large majorities of adults, and some of them are strongly supported," Taylor said.

For instance, virtually all (91 percent) supported a ban on texting while driving, while 74 percent "strongly" supported this initiative.

Other road-safety initiatives that garnered majority support were banning talking on cellphones while driving (70 percent supporting, 43 percent strongly supporting); requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets (82 percent supporting, 57 percent strongly supporting); requiring cyclists to wear helmets (73 percent supporting, 42 percent strongly supporting); and the mandate to wear seat belts (86 percent in favor, 66 percent strongly in favor).

Respondents also backed up many nutrition-related measures, such as those requiring eating establishments to reveal nutritional information on menus (78 percent supporting, 34 percent strongly supporting); regulations in the offing to reduce the salt content of packaged food (68 percent supporting, 27 percent strongly supporting); and eliminating unhealthy trans fats in restaurants (62 percent in favor, 26 percent strongly in favor).

The regular round of childhood vaccinations (mumps, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis and polio) also received 86 percent positive votes with 55 percent strongly positive.

A smaller majority (61 percent) also favored giving the controversial human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine -- which shields against cervical and other cancers -- to children aged 11 and 12, and about one-quarter strongly supported the idea.

Banning smoking in restaurants and public places, a regulation which is gradually gaining ascendency in different regions of the United States, received 80 percent "pro" votes. Fifty-eight percent strongly supported these types of prohibitions.

Majorities did oppose three policies, however: employers citing obesity as a reason not to hire (76 percent opposed, 43 percent strongly opposed); employers not hiring smokers (65 percent opposed, 34 percent strongly opposed); and the taxing of sugar-sweetened soft drinks (62 percent against, 37 percent strongly against).

And even as they supported many individual initiatives aimed at protecting the public good, 81 percent of respondents agreed that individuals should take responsibility for their own actions and "be free to make their own decisions, even if they suffer as a result."

One expert stressed that a balance must be struck between maintaining both public health and individual freedoms.

"In an interdependent society, there do need to be protocols that protect people from each other and also enable us to protect ourselves," said Philip Howard, chairman of Common Good, a nonprofit organization that champions legal reform.

While most of the regulations mentioned in this survey were supported, Howard, who is also the author of The Death of Common Sense, said that there are "a million regulations that Americans would agree are nonsensical."

These might include teachers being required to fill out so many forms that they no longer have time to teach, or extremely complicated reimbursement policies for government-funded insurance.

"Talking on the phone and texting while driving are actively dangerous for other people," he reasoned. "Unvaccinated children dramatically increase the risk of other people getting diseases."

However, regulation can also go too far, Howard noted. "In a crowded society, you want protocols and regulations that protect us from each other and give us information," he said. "What you don't want is micromanagement."

More information

For more on the hazards of distracted driving, head to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

SOURCES: Humphrey Taylor, chairman, Harris Poll, New York City; Philip Howard, chairman, Common Good, and author, The Death of Common Sense; Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, Feb. 27-29, 2012


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. African-Americans 7 times more likely to have keloid scarring of the head, neck
2. Too Many Americans Skipping Colon Cancer Screening
3. In Tougher Economy, Fewer Americans Get Colonoscopy
4. Hispanic Americans Born Outside Country Have Fewer Strokes
5. Hepatitis C Now Kills More Americans Than HIV
6. Millions of Americans Have Untreated Hearing Loss: Study
7. More Than 4 Million Americans Have New Knee
8. 4.5 million Americans living with total knee replacement
9. More Americans Seeking Love Online: Study
10. Too Few Americans Getting Screened for Common Cancers: CDC
11. More Americans Practicing Safe Sex, CDC Reports
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Many Americans Ambivalent Over Laws Aimed at Healthy Living
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... T.E.N., a technology and information ... 3, at the 2016 ISE® Central Executive Forum and Awards Gala at the ... Security Officer of HMS, was selected as the Information Security Executive® of the ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... , ... With May flowers, summer is just around the corner. Summer means a lot of ... and the ability to play all day and night. Parents often lament the coming of ... tykes themselves. Summer also means trips to the beach, backyard cookouts, fireworks on the Fourth ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... May 05, 2016 , ... ACLS Certification ... announce its new referral program, giving participants incentive for spreading the word about ... and we know many professionals share resources with their friends and colleagues,” said ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... ... , ... Pigment Laser Tattoo Removal Center is proud to be the first ... the first 4-wavelenth picosecond laser to receive FDA Clearance. This new laser system ... market. Jeremy Miller, Tattoo Artist and former reality show contestant on Spike TV’s ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... , ... May 05, 2016 ... ... Director 703.462.0658, ctellez(at)msnva.org , The Medical Society of Northern Virginia, Announces ... patients , The Medical Society of Northern Virginia (MSNVA) launches DoctorsTelemed?, a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/5/2016)... , May 5, 2016  Diagnostic imaging ... decade due to concerns that these tests cause health ... approach to imaging, as well as the adoption ... era of medical peripherals that help health care providers cut ... Ampronix  advanced medical imaging is a renowned authorized reseller ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... May 5, 2016 Research and Markets has ... in Top 5 EU Markets"  report to their offering.  ,     ... provides information on the current Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner ... (T5 EU), which includes France , ... Spain and the United Kingdom ...
(Date:5/5/2016)... , May 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... announced the addition of the  "Europe ... - 2016"  report to their offering.  ... ) , ,The latest research ... Highlights - 2016, provides comprehensive insights ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: