Laws & Policies

What is Policy?

Policy development is one of public health’s three core functions.  It involves serving the public interest by providing leadership in developing comprehensive public health policy and promoting the use of scientific knowledge for decision making.

Policy can be a law or regulation, or it can be a procedure, administrative action, incentive or voluntary practice.  Policies are important because they can change systems and affect health at the population level.  Policies can influence social norms and decisions, create environments for safe living, and modify individual behaviors.

Levels of Policy Change:

  • Organizations / Institutional
  • Local – city or county ordinances
  • State – laws and rules made by legislative and executive branches
  • Federal – laws and rules made by legislative and executive branches

Types of Policy Change:

  • Guidelines / Informal policies
  • Rules and Ordinances
  • Official Law / Policy
  • Budget
  • Systems Changes

Policy, Systems and Environmental Change – Description

Examples of Policy, Systems and Environmental Change Plans

Washington State Open Water Drowning Prevention: Policy Strategies for Children and Families 2011-2016

Washington State Child Occupant Safety Policy and Systems Strategies 2012-2016


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