The physical and social environment affects behaviors. Social norms and physical surroundings may support a healthy lifestyle, or they may sometimes encourage one to take risks (for example, by over-eating, smoking, drinking to excess, or having risky sex). A population-based approach to health promotion aims to address these social or structural factors. Instead of concentrating solely on individual responsibility and behavior, population-based approaches focus on communities, neighborhoods, cities, states and even entire nations. A population-level approach seeks to alter our environment through policy, regulation, changes in practices, or forging new social norms, with the creation of a culture of wellness and an environment that supports healthy choices.
CAI has extensive experience in training and technical assistance for population-based health promotion approaches. Since 2005, CAI has served as the New York State Tobacco Control Training Center, delivering customized trainings to tobacco control contractors and staff to help them understand and apply population-based interventions and strategies with a focus on achieving community-wide outcomes. Over time, and thanks in part to CAI's ongoing training program, New York's tobacco control program has implemented major policy reforms such as tobacco-free environments including a strong clean indoor air law, increases in tobacco taxes to discourage tobacco use, and enhanced access to tobacco cessation services. As a result of these population-based efforts, youth and adult smoking rates in New York are at their lowest levels on record.