National Social Norms Resource Center
HIGH SCHOOLS LOWER TEEN TOBACCO AND ALCOHOL USE THROUGH SOCIAL NORMS
IL (July 22, 2004)— Social norms is an effective method
of reducing tobacco and alcohol usage among high school students as
reported today at the National Social Norms Conference in Chicago. High
schools in Evanston and Naperville, Illinois, which have been among
the first in the country to utilize a social norms model on the high
school level, have witnessed significant reductions after just two years.
"The success among a
growing number of colleges and universities in achieving significant
reductions in high-risk drinking and related harmful behavior has paved
the way for the social norms approach to be applied successfully in
high schools and communities," said Michael Haines, Director of
the National Social Norms Resource Center, which presented the conference.
"We have developed a guidebook, introduced at the conference, so
that high schools across the country can implement their own successful
social norms campaigns."
to Marketing Social Norms for Health Promotion in Schools and Communities
is the first comprehensive, step-by-step manual for those who are interested
in using the social norms approach to address school age and community-wide
issues. The guide explains in depth the five stages necessary for a
successful social norms campaign, including initial planning, data collection,
strategy development, implementation and evaluation.
in Numbers was launched in November 2001 targeting Evanston
Township (IL) High School students, parents and staff. The campaign
included a yearly survey developed by the Center for Prevention Research
and Development at the University of Illinois, focus groups conducted
periodically throughout the year, and postcards, ads and promotional
items displayed and distributed throughout the community. After the
second year of implementation, data showed a 4% decrease in the percentage
point of students who use tobacco regularly (which equates to a 25%
reduction in the proportion of students) and a 5% decrease in the percentage
point of students who use alcohol regularly (which equates to an 11%
reduction in the proportion of students). Due to the initial success,
the campaign is now expanding to include middle school students and
The Naperville social norms
marketing campaign also began in 2001. A survey of a random sample of
9-11th grade students indicated that students thought that only 9% of
students their age never smoke, when in reality, 75% reported they do
not smoke cigarettes. Seeking to correct this misperception, students
were targeted with a poster campaign for the next 16 months, after which
they were resurveyed. Results show a 7% reduction in perceived peer
tobacco use and an 8% reduction in actual tobacco use. A new campaign,
focusing on underage drinking, began in January 2004 and will continue
for the next four years.
"Social norms is truly
a cost-effective method of achieving widespread results that focuses
on positive behaviors as opposed to scare tactics," remarked Haines.
"We are encouraged by these early findings and hope for additional
successes in the other communities, such as the two in Massachusetts
participating in the Social Norms Alcohol Problem Prevention for Youth
(SNAPPY) project, experimenting with the social norms model."
The National Social Norms Conference is presented by the National Social
Norms Resource Center and the Bacchus and Gamma Peer Education Network.
The National Social Norms Resource Center is an independent center that
supports, promotes and provides technical assistance in the application
of the social norms approach to a broad range of health, safety and
social justice issues, including alcohol-related risk-reduction and
the prevention of tobacco use. It is the only national center devoted
exclusively to the understanding and use of the social norms approach.
Opened on July 1, 2000, the Center is directed by Michael Haines, a
nationally recognized proponent and pioneering practitioner of the social
norms approach. For more information, visit www.socialnorm.org.