As the founder and Director of the Public Health Law Center at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Doug Blanke leads one of the largest legal teams in the U.S. working to reduce tobacco use, promote healthy eating, and encourage physical activity. The Center’s sixteen attorneys, supported by policy analysts, law students and graduate students in public health, provide legal technical assistance to community leaders in dozens of policy areas, from the regulation of e-cigarettes, to improvement of unhealthy diets, to expansion of bike and pedestrian-friendly transportation ‒ helping them understand and 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, which is based at the Public Health Law Center. He is a trustee of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and a member of the Strategic Advisory Committee of Voices for Health Kids, the American Heart Association’s childhood obesity prevention initiative.
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 was principal drafter of 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.