7 August 2007

Wacky HIAs: HIAs of free newspapers and public spitting

I'd love to someone to do a HIA on free newspapers.

In London, UK we now have at least four newspapers everyday that are given away at tube stations, railway stations and major bus stops. We have the Metro, the London Paper, London Lite and the City AM.

From a sustainability perspective this is unsupportable as all that paper is junked mostly in regular bins and not recycled. Worse from a public health and environmental perspective the is a huge amount of litter and hazard created by people throwing these papers in streets and inside stations.

And yet, free newspapers through their provision of news, ideas, information, entertainment and gossip do generate some form of social capital, social inclusion and civic engagement.

The question therefore is how to keep the positives and reduce the negatives?

I'd also love someone to do a HIA on public spitting. Everyday as I commute into central London I see spit and people spitting. On the streets, inside tube stations, on the platforms and on buses.

Okay, so public spitting in strict public health terms probably isn't so bad in a country like the UK, where infectious disease levels are low and yet there are social, civic and cultural effects from this. Spitting in public shows a disregard both for public spaces and for the people who use them. Or maybe I'm just getting old and taking things too seriously.

What do you think of my ideas? What novel and wacky HIAs would you like to carry out, or have carried out, if you had the chance?