As the founder and Executive Director of the Public Health Law Center at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Doug Blanke leads one of the nation’s largest legal teams working to reduce tobacco use, promote healthy eating, and encourage physical activity. The Center’s twenty attorneys and policy analysts, supported by law students and other graduate students, provide legal technical assistance to health advocates in dozens of policy areas, from the regulation of e-cigarettes to the promotion of healthy beverages, to expansion of bike-friendly transportation – helping community leaders strengthen the laws that shape the nation’s health. From 2003 to 2015, Doug also served as Executive Director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, the legal network supporting the U.S. tobacco control movement.
Doug has forty years’ experience in public policy arenas, including legislative advocacy, litigation, marketing regulation, consumer protection and coalition building. As an Assistant Attorney General of Minnesota, he played a key role in the historic litigation that resulted in the release of the secret documents of the tobacco industry, and in multi-state initiatives to eliminate smoking in fast food restaurants and prevent tobacco sales to minors. For more than a decade, he oversaw enforcement of Minnesota’s consumer protection laws as director of the attorney general’s consumer protection division, where he developed award-winning policy initiatives such as a pioneering state-federal collaboration to address deceptive environmental claims in corporate marketing.
Internationally, he helped draft the global guidelines for smoking regulation adopted as part of the world’s first public health treaty, the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and he edited the World Health Organization’s handbook on tobacco control legislation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Humanities from Michigan State University, where he graduated first in the winter class of 1974, and a law degree from Yale Law School, where he was Chair of Yale Legislative Services. He received the American Lung Association’s 2004 C. Everett Koop “Unsung Hero” Award for his contributions to tobacco control.
Doug has been on the Board of Trustees for Action on Smoking and Health since 2011 with prior involvement as a member of the ASH International Board of Directors from 2007-11.