Community Effort Brings Lasting Drop in Smoking, Delinquency, Drug Use

ScienceDaily (Oct. 3, 2011) — Delaying the age when kids try alcohol or smoking decreases the likelihood that they will become dependent later in life. Effective interventions exist, but community disagreements about which programs to try can stymie decisions. Communities That Care, a prevention system developed by University of Washington researchers, leads communities through the decision-making process, facilitating evidence-based choices of prevention programs known to work. The researchers’ latest study shows that tenth graders in towns using Communities That Care were less likely to have tried drinking or smoking compared with teens living in towns that had not adopted the system. Delinquent behavior, including stealing, vandalism and physical fights, decreased too.

“What’s exciting about this paper is that these decreases in alcohol use, smoking and violence were apparent even after outside support for the Communities That Care system ended. It shows that community coalitions can make a sustained difference in their youngsters’ health community-wide,” said J. David Hawkins, lead author. Ahe study was published online Oct. 3 in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.