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Lethal But Legal

Decisions made by the food, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceutical, gun, and automobile industries have a greater impact on today's health than the decisions of scientists and policymakers. As the collective influence of corporations has grown, governments around the world have stepped back from their responsibility to protect public health by privatizing key services, weakening regulations, and cutting funding for consumer and environmental protection. Today's corporations are increasingly free to make decisions that benefit their bottom line at the expense of public health. Lethal but Legal examines how corporations have impacted - and plagued - public health over the last century, first in industrialized countries and now in developing regions. It is both a current history of corporations' antagonism towards health and an analysis of the emerging movements that are challenging these industries' dangerous practices. The reforms outlined here aim to strike a healthier balance between large companies' right to make a profit and governments' responsibility to protect their populations. While other books have addressed parts of this story, Lethal but Legal is the first to connect the dots between unhealthy products, business-dominated politics, and the growing burdens of disease and health care costs. By identifying the common causes of all these problems, then situating them in the context of other health challenges that societies have overcome in the past, this book provides readers with the insights they need to take practical and effective action to restore consumers' right to health.
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About the Author

Nicholas Freudenberg, PhD, MPH, is Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College and founder and director of Corporations and Health Watch (, an international network of activists and researchers that monitors the business practices of the alcohol, automobile, firearms, food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and tobacco industries.


Provides an advocate's perspective on how industry shapes health, and in Freudenberg's words, 'This is something not only to think about, but to rant about.' * Health Affairs * An exceptionally detailed and thought-provoking historical profile of how corporations have risen to power and maintained their influence in the shaping of our societies. * The Lancet * A richly detailed account of how corporate power has been used to corrupt health and well-being, along with excellent advice on what readers can do about it. * Kirkus * Freudenberg brings clarity to our understanding of these fundamental determinants of population health in a way that no one else has. * Sandro Galea, Dean, Boston University School of Public Health * After documenting how multinational corporations manipulate us into hyperconsumption, this book goes on to identify the strategies we can, together, use to liberate ourselves. * Richard Wilkinson, Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham * Freudenberg lays out the labyrinth of connections between corporate misbehavior and the health of the world, then and gives a roadmap to fix it. I love this book. * Cheryl G. Healton, Director, NYU Global Institute of Public Health; former President and CEO, American Legacy Foundation * A reservoir of constructive indignation that can arouse all Americans who adhere to basic human values. * Ralph Nader * Freudenberg details how six industries * food and beverage, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, pharmaceutical, and automotive * Lethal But Legal has scholarly merit and marshals compelling evidence to support its central thesis. * Bonnie Stabile, George Mason University; World Medical and Health Policy *

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