The policy may exist without resorting to law, but one could argue that neither law nor policy can effectively solve modern public health issues on their own. When a policy is established in law, it becomes more effective (Fadlallah & Akl, 2019). A comprehensive public health policy, possibly enshrined in legislation to demonstrate political intent, might be paired with specific operational policies, some of which are embodied in law to assure law enforcement duties, powers, and provisions. As a result, laws, regulations, and guidelines are frequently used as policy implementation instruments.
When a policy was created for a long-term purpose, education and voluntary compliance policy initiatives failed to accomplish political goals, and successful policy implementation necessitates enforcement measures, politicians may turn to the law. The more comprehensive the policy, the more probable it is that it will be enshrined in legislation in order to be implemented (Fadlallah & Akl, 2019). If a public health plan necessitates the performance of a specific action or activity, the law is the most effective means of attaining outcomes. Infectious illness control, for example, is dependent on statistics on disease prevalence and frequency, and many jurisdictions have public health gun laws that require disease disclosure.
The law also gives the authorization to act in ways that would otherwise be illegal or violate human rights. If a public health professional is obliged to take steps to limit a person with an infectious disease’s contact with others, the state will need to provide legal powers of detention or isolation to allow the public health official to act without being obstructed (Luyckx et al., 2017). The legislation also establishes the boundaries within which powers can be exercised. Public policy will establish the connection between the state and the person and the balance between the public good and individual rights at the strategic level. These relationships will require legal expression in a non-authoritarian state (Luyckx et al., 2017). Mandatory vaccination and medical treatment, for example, can fulfill the utilitarian and communal goals of lowering disease danger, but the state’s strategic strategy must approve such measures.
The following situations can be given as an example:
- The law aimed at reducing tobacco smoking
The approach, which is backed by the law, has proven to be beneficial in preventing public health harm. This regulation explained how tobacco smoking may be reduced through a combination of education, activism, support resources, and legislation (Luyckx et al., 2017). Although one of the primary purposes of smoking regulation was to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke, it is now clear that “smokeless” laws are also successful in encouraging and assisting tobacco users to quit smoking and preventing tobacco use from the beginning.
- Laws aimed at reducing alcohol consumption
For instance, alcohol taxation to raise the price of alcohol, the introduction of driving rules that set a maximum alcohol level, the introduction of licensing conditions for hotels and restaurants, and the civil liability of people who serve alcohol to the wrong people. All of these things worked to either reduce alcohol consumption or reduce the harm caused by alcohol.
- Implementation of security measures in case of an epidemic
For example, the government believes that all infected or exposed people should be isolated or vaccinated in certain specific circumstances, such as when a human influenza pandemic is imminent (Fadlallah & Akl, 2019). In that case, a functional policy can be developed quickly, flexibly, and within a limited time frame to address this problem.
Fadlallah, R., & Akl, E. A. (2019). Using narratives to impact health policy-making: A systematic review. Health Research Policy and Systems, 17(1), 26.
Luyckx, V. A., Biller-Andorno, N., Saxena, A., & Tran, N. T. (2017). Health policy and systems research: Towards a better understanding and review of ethical issues. BMJ Global Health, 2(2), 1-13.