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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
- 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 more about the systematic review of BAC legislation.
Translating evidence into policy: lessons learned from the case of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers. 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. 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. [PDF - 124 kB] Green LW , Kreuter MW. Am J Prev Med 2000: 18; 7-9.
Improving Population Health: The Uses of Systematic Reviews. Sweet M, Moynihan R. Published by Milbank Memorial Fund with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 2007. www.milbank.org.