Communication campaigns are environmental prevention strategies that attempt to offset the impact of advertising that promotes tobacco and alcohol use by utilizing the same media channels and advertising techniques to provide target populations with anti-tobacco and anti-alcohol messages that “level the playing field.” For example, research has shown that it takes only one tobacco “counter advertisement” to counteract the impact of three tobacco advertisements on youth attitudes toward tobacco use.
Communication campaigns utilize a purposeful promotional strategy to change knowledge, attitudes, behavior or policy in a specific, intended audience via marketing and advertising techniques. Recognizing the power of marketing and advertising in influencing consumer decisions, non-profits and the public sector have embarked on using the same powerful concepts to impact issues related to public health, including prevention of teen substance use/abuse.
Communication campaigns can help to counteract the negative impact of alcohol and tobacco advertising by promoting healthy behaviors and working to change community norms. For example, communication campaigns can be used to:
• Raise awareness
• Influence attitudes and norms
• Increase knowledge
• Reinforce knowledge, attitudes and/or behavior
• Show benefit of behavior change
• Demonstrate skills
• Suggest/prompt an action
• Refute myths and misconceptions