This week Oxford University Press releases a new paperback edition of Lethal but Legal Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health with a new Afterword by the author. An excerpt is below.
New York City, October 2034.
I wrote Lethal but Legal more than 20 years ago because I was worried about humanity’s survival. Growing epidemics of chronic diseases and injuries, escalating environmental damage, increasing concentration of corporate power and wealth, and declining democracy and government protection of health were converging towards a dangerous tipping point. After the book’s release, I had many conversations about these fears with readers, researchers, activists, health professionals and students. What struck me most was that although most agreed that the rise of the corporate consumption complex and its relentless marketing of hyperconsumption threatened public health and democracy, even those persuaded by the book’s arguments were pessimistic that another future was possible. Corporations were too powerful, they said, opposition too weak. Acquiescence was more popular than resistance and any possibility of a real alternative seemed hopelessly naïve.
Two decades later hindsight provides new insights. Today, a global movement for a healthier, more sustainable world thrives, expanding its influence and impact, winning many small and medium-sized victories that hold the promise for a transformed world in which human well-being, rather than profit alone, is an acknowledged goal. Of course threats remain. Perhaps a closer look at some of the changes in the specific industries I described in the book will help us to understand the ingredients that led to successes and the obstacles we can expect to face in coming years.
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