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Am J Prev Med. 2006 Oct;31(4 Suppl):S66-81.

Inferring strategies for disseminating physical activity policies, programs, and practices from the successes of tobacco control.

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University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.


Efforts at reducing tobacco use in the United States and Canada over the last half century have been amazingly successful. This article examines those efforts in order to identify policies, programs, and practices found useful in tobacco control that might be usefully disseminated to world populations to improve rates of physical activity. Tobacco-control activities began with efforts to influence the individual smoker through public education and counter-advertising. Increasing awareness of the addictive properties of tobacco, industry efforts to manipulate those properties, and to target youth with aggressive advertising, fueled public outrage that supported additional policy changes to include community interventions, legal actions, and restraints against the tobacco industry. The article first examines ways to view the process of transferring knowledge from one enterprise (reducing tobacco consumption) to another (increasing physical activity). Several theories of knowledge generalization and dissemination are explored: transfer, knowledge utilization, application, diffusion, and implementation. The second section identifies the dissemination of tobacco control by means of brief health behavior-change interventions for smoking cessation that have been successfully integrated into primary clinical care. The question of whether similar strategies can be successfully disseminated to increase physical activity is examined in detail. The article then moves on to look at the success of arguably the most successful program in the world at achieving a reduction in tobacco control-the State of California. Finally, we compare and contrast some of the lessons as they have played out in another national context-Canada. In the concluding section, some lessons are identified that we believe may be successfully utilized in societal attempts to increase physical activity in world populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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