The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year, $2.7 million grant to Northeastern University Law School to research how the tobacco, fast food and sweetened beverage industries use and exploit the concepts of "personal responsibility" and "choice" to avoid liability and litigation for diseases that result from use of their products. Law professor and public health advocate Richard A. Daynard will lead the project to analyze legal and regulatory forums, advertising, public relations campaigns and news coverage to examine how the tobacco industry utilizes personal responsibility rhetoric to influence courts, legislatures, regulatory agencies and public opinion. The project will then examine the extent to which the food and beverage industries have applied the same, or similar strategies to shift blame from source to consumer to avoid legal responsibility for widespread health problems. "If the burden for addressing the harm is left with the consumer rather than the manufacturer," Daynard said, "the manufacturer benefits -- often at the expense of public health."
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