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Moralism also enters into discussions of alcohol and drug policy. Libertarians could argue against regulation of alcohol and bans on addictive drugs on the basis that consumption of drugs is private behavior that does not directly hurt others. In fact, however, most citizens accept the validity of such regulation.


The power of government to limit drug and alcohol consumption is well established in the United States and corresponds with the tradition of limiting individual behavior for the common good. To a varying extent, responsibility for some public health activities may be delegated by the state to local governments. An organization chart of a small state health department, shows public health activities typically provided for in state law. The power to tax and spend is a way for the federal government to achieve goals that it may lack the authority to achieve directly.


It can provide funds to the states subject to certain requirements. For example, the federal government mandated that, as a precondition for receiving highway construction funds, states must pass laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets. The effectiveness of the mandate was demonstrated by the fact that, 47 states had passed such laws, with the result that motorcyclist deaths declined by 30 percent in these states.