Americans Ambivalent about Healthy Living Laws
A recent survey from Harris Interactive shows most Americans favor laws that protect the public health and safety, but at the same time worry about our becoming a “nanny state.”
Eighty-one percent of respondents agreed and 33% strongly agreed that public safety laws: for example, those addressing safe driving or childhood vaccination: are important to keeping America safe. More than three-quarters also agree that such initiatives do actually work. On the other hand, almost two-thirds (61%) are concerned that these same laws might get too restrictive, impeding individual freedoms.
The survey quizzed respondents on 14 different policies, laws and programs. Some key findings:
- 91% support a ban on texting while driving, while 74% strongly support this initiative
- 70 % support, 43% strongly support banning talking on cell phones while driving
- 78% support, 34% strongly support requiring eating establishments to reveal nutritional information on menus
- 86 % support, 55% strongly support requiring the regular round of childhood vaccinations (mumps, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and polio)
- 80% support, 58% support banning smoking in restaurants, and public places
- 76 % oppose, 43% strongly oppose employers citing obesity as a reason not to hire
- 65% oppose, 34% strongly oppose employers not hiring smokers
- 62 % against, 37% strongly against the taxing of sugar-sweetened soft drinks
Even as they supported many individual initiatives aimed at protecting the public good, 81% of respondents nevertheless 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.” Some respondents stressed that a balance must be struck between maintaining both public health and individual freedoms.
The survey included online responses from 2,200 adults over the age of 18.
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