Moral suasion offers a versatile and low-cost approach to influence social norms and risky health behaviours, but is often neglected in health promotion in favour of using educational approaches. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the challenges and the benefits of using moral suasion in health promotion. Past and present experiences of using moral suasion to promote health are discussed in conjunction with other approaches, such as harm reduction. The challenge of using moral suasion as an approach is that it focuses on individual behaviour change, rather than addressing the broader structural causes of poor health. However, the paper concludes that the versatility of the moral suasion approach and the success of using “pledges” means that it can be an important intervention, alongside other educational and motivational techniques, to help to change behaviours at the individual and collective levels.
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