California has been the trend setting state for decades. Hollywood, California alone is responsible for most of the trends set around the world. Aside from the glitz and glam influences, California may be the top health trendsetter, too.
California was first to do many things. They were first to require smog checks, pass anti-tobacco laws, even to require bike helmets. They were pioneers in 1998 when they banned smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants. The state passes many laws on a yearly basis, and many are positive for public health.
“There have been progressive legislation in tobacco, environment and obesity prevention,” said Mark Horton, a lecturer at the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health. “In some respect, the rest of the country looks to California as a laboratory for moving forward with those various types of initiatives.”
While some are excited about the 151,002 health and safety laws the state currently has, others feel the government is barging into their lives. “It never ends,” said Laer Pearce, who works in public affairs in Orange County. “Every year, several hundred bills come through and dozens of them tell us how to live our lives.”
Many others feel all the laws may be excessive. Since January, California has passed 760 new laws. Some of the new laws include the prohibition of the importing of shark fins, student athletes are required to have medical clearance after suffering a head injury, teens are banned from using tanning booths and the sale of caffeinated alcohol is forbidden.
It’s a fine line to toe. Should the government require so much or should the people be allowed to make more of their own choices? Most of the laws seem to be in the best interest of the people, however, not all see eye to eye. In 2010, Santa Clara County made news as the first to ban fast food restaurants from passing out toys in their kid’s meals. Many cities followed their lead and many others, such as New York are interested. This trend is a prime example of why some feel there’s too much government in California. At the same time, this also illustrates how California is a trend setter for health regulations.
While the critics exists, one thing can’t be contested. California has some of the healthiest citizens in the U.S. In general, Californians have healthier habits. They rank 10th for physical activity, 4th for blood pressure, and 5th for diets rich in fruits and vegetables.
There’s a lot of controversy over who should be in control. However, our kids will never be asked “smoking or non-smoking?” in a restaurant. To that, we owe California a huge thank you!
February 13th, 2012