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J Public Health Policy. 2001;22(4):381-402.

The public health approach to motor vehicles, tobacco, and alcohol, with applications to firearms policy.

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Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


The public health approach that has been used to reduce problems caused by motor vehicles, tobacco and alcohol is applied to firearms policy. Manufacturers try to focus prevention efforts on the user rather than the product, and promote education and law enforcement policies directed toward the consumer. Public health efforts emphasize the systematic collection of data, scientific inquiry, and a multi-faceted policy approach that includes modifying the product and the environment. The endeavor to reduce gun violence is part of the general and continuing public health struggle to reduce harms caused by consumer products.

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