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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
messages, the appropriate channels to reach target audiences, and the timing and weight given to various messages and channels over time. Campaign strategy would reflect initial research with target audiences and continual monitoring of how they respond to the campaign as it evolves. A central issue would be how best to link the campaign with local, state, and national policy changes about youth alcohol use, if they are adopted.
During the first phase, we suggest funding the basic formative work for the campaign, including intensive and multifaceted developmental research. This phase might involve controlled tests of whether high exposure to messages leads parents and other adults to be willing to change their behavior, particularly if this can be done in the context of actions by local organizations concerned about youth alcohol use or of local policy changes. While we would be reluctant to expect too much influence from such a highly localized campaign, given the lack of nonlocal sources of reinforcing information, a good deal might be learned about what is promising and what falls completely flat.
A second preliminary phase might build on that local effort and develop larger-scale efforts in one or two states where there was substantial interest among government or grassroots organizations. While the national media and national policy would not be engaged, there would still be opportunities for building a statewide social movement, with analogies to the state-level anti-tobacco campaigns in California, Florida, and Massachusetts. If these statewide efforts show enough promise to suggest that a nationwide effort would be worthwhile, then the decision to build the broad national effort would rest on a strong scientific foundation and would be fully justified.
If results were positive at each stage, a projected schedule might require 3 years for developmental and preliminary testing. This would be followed by 5 years of full operation. In subsequent years, booster efforts might be implemented, as monitoring evidence established a need.