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Am J Community Psychol. 2000 Jun;28(3):269-302.

Why have we been more successful in reducing tobacco use than violent crime?

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Center for Community Interventions on Childrearing, Oregon Research Institute, Eugene 97403-1983, USA.


Tobacco control efforts have been associated with a significant reduction in the prevalence of tobacco use in the United States. Efforts to reduce the incidence of violent crime have been much less successful. This paper argues that progress on tobacco control stems from the existence of a clear, empirically based, and widely understood analysis of the tobacco problem that articulates (a) the harms associated with its use, (b) the causes of tobacco use, and (c) the programs and policies that could reduce tobacco use. This analysis has guided the development of a network of social organizations that have been advocating for policies and programs that are reducing tobacco use. In contrast, there is not a widely shared, cogent, and empirically based analysis of the problem of violent crime. As a result, efforts to combat violent crime are fragmented and it has proven difficult to generate support for preventive programs and policies. Substantial empirical progress has been made, however, on how violent crime could be prevented. That evidence is reviewed. It is argued that the articulation of this evidence is a critical first step for achieving widespread reduction in the incidence of violent crime. Communication of that evidence to audiences that matter will require that behavioral scientists become better organized to advocate for the adoption of empirically supported practices.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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