The Alcohol Policy Panel (APP) takes an upstream prevention approach to prevent binge and underage drinking particularly by advocating for policies that reduce the access, availability and advertising of alcohol to minors under the age of 21. Upstream prevention is a comprehensive approach to preventing problems by addressing the underlying conditions in a community that cause those problems and exploring long-term solutions. Implementing an effective and sustainable upstream prevention project requires a consistent focus on the vision for community transformation. In conjunction with this vision, well-planned and strategically implemented media advocacy, policy and systems change, data and research, community organizing and sustainability strategies meld together to achieve community transformation.
Upstream 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
Taken together, these factors determine the social acceptability of behaviors and practices and the degree to which they are considered normal.