Skip to Main Content

Public Health Law


Controlled substances are those substances which have a potential for abuse and are thus regulated by the Federal government. These can be pharmaceutical substances, prescription medications, or illegal "street" drugs. The government's power to regulate these is derived from the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and is generally enforced through the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration.

Risky  behaviors, although not illegal for adults, are those which can lead to significant health risks per their abuse or prolonged use. Many of these are lifestyle choices and include using tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, and abuse of prescription drugs. These behaviors are those that have the recognized potential to pose serious health risks. A broad portion of the laws regarding these behaviors are aimed at protecting children from exposure to, acquisition of, and use of these substances.

Texts & Other Books

Seminal Cases & Statutes

Online Resources



  • Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009)
    • Granted FDA authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health
  • Austin v. Tennessee, 179 U.S. 343 (1900)
    • Supreme Court finds that states can use police powers to regulate, even prohibit, products for public health purposes within state
      • even if manufactured out of state
      • even if indirect interference with interstate commerce
  • R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. FDA, 696 F.3d 1205 (D.C. 2012)
    • Graphic warnings on cigarette advertising would not directly advance interest in reducing smoking rates
  • Discount Tobacco City & Lottery, Inc. v. US, 674 F.3d 509 (6th Cir. 2012)
    • Tobacco Control Act's ban on use of color and imagery in most tobacco advertising was overbroad
  • Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Reilly, 533 U.S. 525 (1st Cir. 2001)
    • State/federal preemption question on advertising regulations
  • Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U.S. 504 (1992)
    • Personal injury / product liability claim for contracting lung cancer
  • Altria Group, Inc. v. Goode, 555 U.S. 70
    • "light" and "low tar" misrepresentation - preemption is not a defense
  • U.S. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., 566 F.3d 1095 (2009)
    • Department of Justice filed RICO Action against tobacco companies to recover health care expenditures of the federal government associated with tobacco related illness.
  • D.A.B.E. v. City of Toledo, 393 F.3d 692 (2005)
    • State regulations of indoor smoking not a taking
  • Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act
    • 1965 – FCLAA enacted to inform public of hazards of smoking and protect national economy from non-uniform labeling and advertising
    • 1969 – changed original caution to warning “Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Smoking Is Dangerous To Your Health.”
    • 1984 – 4 rotating warnings
  • U.S. Oil v. City of Fond du Lac544 N.W.2d 589 (1996)
    • State legislation prohibiting children from purchasing or possessing tobacco products and prohibiting sale or giving of tobacco products to children preempted city's ordinance

Online Resources



State Surveys


  • Tobacco 21
    • In this Critical Opportunities presentation, Michelle Mello, JD, PhD, makes the case that raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 would aid in reducing minors' tobacco use by 50 percent, which would prevent 10 million people from becoming daily smokers and avoid 3 million premature deaths.

Smoking in Georgia

Georgia Smokefree Air Act

  • O.C.G.A. §§ 31-12A-1 through 31-12A-13
  • O.C.G.A. § 31-12A-6 – Many Exceptions

Georgia bans smoking and tobacco products on state university campuses



State Surveys

Prescription Drugs

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the State of Georgia, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Georgia State University College of Law and the authors of the works contained on this website do not assume or accept any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, currentness, or comprehensiveness of the content on this website. The content on this website does not in any manner constitute the issuance of legal advice or counsel. The information on this website is intended to provide resources that may aid the research of the topics presented, and are in no way a comprehensive list of sources one should consult on the topics presented. Please note that case law, statutory law, and administrative law may be modified and/or overturned. Additionally, because the laws vary between jurisdictions, the laws referred to herein may or may not be applicable to the law within the reader’s jurisdiction.