Public health: ethical issues


Published 13/11/2007

Public Health Cover
This report considers what the Government, industry and individuals should do to enable people to lead a healthy life.
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Public consultation

The Council would like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultation on public health. The responses reflected diverse views and provided useful and interesting information.

Download the consultation paper.

The paper provides background information on the issues and asks questions in the context of five case studies: infectious diseases, obesity, smoking, alcohol, and the supplementation of food and water. For example:

  • Are there cases where the vaccination of children against the wishes of their parents could be justified?
  • Would measures such as forced quarantine, which helped to control the outbreak of SARS in Asia, be acceptable in countries such as the UK?
  • What are the roles and obligations of parents, schools, school-food providers and the government in tackling childhood obesity?
  • Should people who smoke or drink excessively be entitled to fewer resources from the public healthcare system, or should they be asked for increased contributions?
  • Fortification of foodstuffs such as flour and margarine have been accepted for some time. Why does the fluoridation of water meet with such resistance?

Fact-finding meetings

The Working Party met with representatives from the following organisations as part of its research:

  • Food and Drink Federation
  • Foresight Obesity Project, Office of Science and Technology
  • MRC Human Nutrition Research, Cambridge
  • London Sport Institute, Middlesex University
  • British Fluoridation Society
  • National Pure Water Association
  • All Party Parliamentary Group Against Water Fluoridation
  • British Nutrition Foundation
  • Institute of Alcohol Studies, London
  • British Beer and Pub Association
  • South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
  • Action on Smoking and Health
  • Centre for Social Marketing, University of Sterling
  • Tobacco Manufacturing Association
  • Vaccination Awareness Network UK
  • Health Protection Agency
  • Department of Health
  • London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London