Environmental prevention is a comprehensive approach to preventing problems by addressing the underlying conditions in a community that cause those problems. Central to every environmental prevention effort is a vision for sustainable community change. Implementing an effective environmental-prevention project requires a consistent focus on the vision for community change. In conjunction with this vision, well-planned and strategically implemented media advocacy, policy development, community organizing, enforcement and applied data strategies meld together to achieve sustainable community change.
Collectively, the vision for community change and the various strategies identified above can create a shift in community norms and standards in relation to underage and binge drinking. They work together to change the elements within a community environment that are the root causes of unhealthy or unsafe community conditions.
Environmental prevention focuses on community systems as opposed to individuals. It is based on the fact that individuals do not make decisions regarding their health and safety solely on the basis of personal characteristics. In reality, alcohol-related behavior and problems are influenced by a complex set of factors in the environment, such as:
- The social norms and standards of a community
- The retail and social availability of alcohol
- The formal rules and regulations associated with alcohol sales, service and use
- The degree to which these rules and regulations are effectively enforced
- Alcohol marketing including product price, placement and promotions
- Mass media messages that promote and glamorize alcohol abuse
- Community capacity to prevent alcohol-related problems
- Community engagement in preventing alcohol-related problems