Friday, 3 May 2013

Does Law make a difference?

Each year Parliament (and Congress/the European Union) produces lots of legislation. But does it actually change anything?

Research has established that:

• After smokefree legislation was introduced  in England, there was a significant drop in  non-smoking adults’ exposure to  secondhand smoke.

• Hospital admissions for heart attacks  dropped significantly, with 1,200 fewer  admissions in the first year following  legislation (after controlling for other  factors), saving the NHS £8.4 million.

• Emergency hospital admissions for asthma  among adults dropped significantly, with  1,900 fewer admissions in each of the first  three years following legislation.
You can read the research paper here.

You'd expect then that if law can change things - then people who profit from the existing position will seek to influence lawmakers and policy makers not to act. And that's where multi-million pound lobbying operations come in. [Just think of the implication of this - people who profit from killing and injuring others are trying to influence our representatives to put their commercial interests above the life and health of people who can't afford a skilled & well paid lobbying organisation to speak up for them]

The University of Bath (Institute for Policy Research) has produced a brief on the political strategies being used by tobacco companies to reduce the impact of these findings on public policy - and to hold up or defeat legislation that might produce similar effects.

The Institute's research paper can be accessed here.

Law can make a difference - and so who is influencing the decision makers, and how - is a matter we should all be concerned about.