Advertising campaigns designed to tackle problems such as alcohol among youngsters fail to work, says a prominent communications expert.
Noel Turnbull, adjunct professor in the School of Applied Communications at RMIT University, who is now a director of DrinkWise Australia, said that young people "think they're immortal".
"They simply don't believe the risks are as great as other people say," News.com.au quoted him as saying.
Pushing for a longer-term approach to tackling alcohol abuse, Turnbull has warned against approaches that "generate widespread community hostility and seek to control the bulk of moderate consumers of alcohol as if they were people with significant alcohol problems".
While ridiculing on draft guidelines the National Health and Medical Research Council issued last year, he said that the Australian politicians might have been misled by their own campaign advertisements.
He said: "One of the reasons why governments like fear is that is the sort of advertising they do in a political context.
"They've demonstrated that negative advertising works when it comes to elections and assume that it also works when it comes to other forms of behavioural change, but the evidence for that is not quite so strong."
On the other hand, Turnbull insisted that using social marketing to change behaviour would be a better approach.
He said: "We're not going to solve social problems purely and simply by regulating them out of existence. We have to actually build social capital.
"It's no good telling people this is the wrong thing to do. Long-term solutions are about building social capital and people's own capacity to change."
Turnbull will present his ideas at the forum of DrinkWise- an education body funded by the federal Government and the liquor industry.