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Learn how communities are working to protect and improve health - The Community Guide in Action

Policy Development

Laws and policies can effect population health and reduce long-term medical and other costs. Examples include:

  • Broad-based policies, such as smoking bans and laws
  • Targeted laws, such as child safety seat laws
  • Educational requirements, such as vaccinations  for child care and school attendance
  • Community-wide interventions, such as water fluoridation
Since the Community Guide provides information on public health interventions and policies that have been proven to work, legislators, policy makers, community leaders, and community members interested in specific issues can use it to:
  • Identify what laws and policies promote public health and at what cost
  • Draft evidence-based policies and legislation
  • Justify funding decisions and proposals
  • Support policies and legislation that promote the health of their communities and change policies and legislation that do not

The Community Guide in Action:
Laws to Lower Illegal Blood Alcohol Limit Save 400-600 Lives/Year

Community Guide finding: In 2000, the Community Guide scientific process revealed that state laws that lowered the illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for automobile drivers from 0.10% to 0.08% reduced alcohol-related fatalities by a median of 7%.

Task Force Recommendation: With this evidence, the Community Preventive Services Task Force strongly recommended that all states pass 0.08% BAC laws.

Legislation: In October 2000, the President signed the Fiscal Year 2001 transportation appropriations bill, requiring states to pass the 0.08% BAC law by October 2003 or risk losing federal highway construction funds.

Result: Since the bill passed, all 50 states have enacted legislation dropping the legal blood alcohol concentration to 0.08%. With all states enacting and enforcing the 0.08% BAC laws, experts estimate 400-600 fewer alcohol-related deaths occur on our roadways each year.

Read about the systematic review of BAC legislation or learn more about how it was used Adobe PDF File [PDF - 570 kB] to save lives.

Selected Resources

Translating evidence into policy: lessons learned from the case of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. External Web Site Icon Mercer SL, Sleet DA, Elder RA, Cole KH, RA Shults, Nichols JL. Annals of Epidemiology 2010;20(6):412-20.

Law as a Tool for Preventing Chronic Diseases: Expanding the Spectrum of Effective Public Health Strategies. External Web Site Icon Mensah GA, Goodman RA, Zaza S, Moulton AD, Kocher PL, Dietz WH, et al. Preventing Chronic Disease [serial online] Vol. 1, No. 1. 2004 Jan.

Commentary on the Emerging Guide to Community Preventive Services from a Health Promotion Perspective. Adobe PDF File [PDF - 124 kB] Green LW , Kreuter MW. Am J Prev Med 2000: 18; 7-9.

Improving Population Health: The Uses of Systematic Reviews. External Web Site Icon Sweet M, Moynihan R. Published by Milbank Memorial Fund with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2007. www.milbank.org. External Web Site Icon

Partnership for Prevention® External Web Site Icon