This first-ever special issue of Priorities examines the most basic premises and goals of our national public health strategy as we approach the 21st century. We hope you will find this issue provocative. The centerpiece article by Jacob Sullum may startle you; it may cause you to ask, "Why would a mainstream public health group such as ACSH publish an article that challenges the basic premises of modern public health practice?" The answer is that we want to re-energize the profession of preventive medicine by examining our ultimate goals. As the rabbit told Alice when she asked which way to go, "that depends a great deal on where you want to get to."
Introduction by Dr. William London What public health services are appropriate for government to provide? Do contemporary public health practices intrude unreasonably on personal liberty? And, in trying to protect people from their own "behavioral risk factors," do public health professionals actually contribute to public health problems?