The Department of Health is to boost access to public health training and population profiling tools to help embed social marketing principles in health improvement work.

Ambitions for Health, a strategic framework launched last week, will include a drive to increase the skills and knowledge of public health professionals through conferences, seminars and research.

A new "life stage segmentation model" will provide a picture of public behaviour in areas like alcohol, drugs, smoking and obesity.

A central resource for sharing knowledge on behavioural interventions at local, regional and national levels will be created and a£1m annual fund will support local partnership work.

The DH says health professionals need to find new ways of empowering people to make their own health choices.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Social marketing puts people at the heart of policy making and is vital to improving public health.

"This framework illustrates our long term commitment to a new way of working"