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.”
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The debate over the fast food ban in South Los Angeles rages on. And there are good points on both sides.
As is often the case with well-intentioned do-good legislation, there are negative side effects. If fast food is simply defined as establishments that have “a limited menu, items prepared in advance, or prepared or heated quickly, no table orders, and food served in disposable wrapping or containers,” there could be unintended casualties.
“Our policy makers abhor nuance and the subtle but distinct qualities that differentiate fast food from food that can be served fast,” says Larry Bain, a businessman who could be adversely effected by the anti-fast food measures in South Los Angeles. He runs two hot dog carts that include high-quality dogs from cattle raised on pastures, served with fresh grilled onions. Not a grilled chicken salad, to be sure. But does it deserve to be banned, especially when you consider it’s a small two-person operation trying to make ends meet?
On the other side of the argument, you have to face the simple economic facts of the matter: personal freedom of choice is all well and good, but when cash-strapped lower income people have the choice between the quick drive-thru fast food “value meal” that costs $5 and the healthier sit-down meal that goes for $10+, which do you think will win?