The Government was accused of running 'nanny state' campaigns this week after three separate initiatives aimed at changing people's behaviour came under attack.
Ministers, including the prime minister Tony Blair, are keen to avoid the charge that the Government is 'preaching' at people.
Yvette Cooper, the public health minister, has ordered that health campaigns on smoking, eating and drinking should be less like 'lectures'.
She explained: 'We know that the nanny state approach is counter-productive. Campaigns that just tell people what is good for them without recognising the real-life obstacles that prevent people leading a healthy life is pointless and patronising.'
But the Conservative Party accused the Government of ignoring Cooper's advice as it draws up campaigns to cut the number of teenage pregnancies and to urge people not to give money to street beggars. The Opposition also condemned as 'propaganda' the launch by the Government of a pounds 97,000 magazine, Voices, aimed at working women and produced in conjunction with Good Housekeeping.
The Tories attacked as 'ill-thought out and haphazard' plans for a pounds 250,000 pre-Christmas press campaign urging people to give money to homeless charities rather than people sleeping rough. The contract has been won by The Leith Agency.
Rory Gilbert, the deputy chief executive of The Big Issue, said: 'If the public are told not to give money to beggars at Christmas, many are likely to do exactly the opposite. I would not blame them.'
Meanwhile, a pounds 2 million campaign being drawn up by Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners on teenage pregnancies was criticised by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. Its spokeswoman, Ann Furedi, said that young people did not respond to 'lecturing' about sexual behaviour.
She added: 'I really worry that government advertising to promote virginity is about as good an investment as the investment in the Millennium Dome.'