The project examined the link between fictional media representations of alcohol and the extent these may influence young people's decision to drink alcohol in UK and in Sweden and more widely across Europe.
AlcopopTVCulture undertook a broad based review of the literature related to the project themes and also eveluated the underpinning philosophical and ethical context for policy in this area, recognising the differentiated cultural and legal norms around young people's standing which exist in different Member States and the prioritisation of freedom of speech as fundemental right.
The project collected the views, experts and a range of interested stakeholders to facilitate and promote the development of youth led reccomendations for policy and practice reform in relation to alcohol and fictional media.
The research results, the Roadmap and the Policy documents arising from the project were debated and disseminated widely via workshops, conferences, web-based social media and peer reviewed academic writings.
Web-based educational materials were produced for use with and by young people to empower them to educate themselves and to provide instant access to information or to join in debates about the impact of alcohol drinking on health, crime and social issues.
The key findings from the research point to media depiction of alcohol being a clear influence in the normalisation of a drinking culture in young age groups.
Popular soap and reality shows often centre story themes and settings around alcohol drinking and some present a glamorised portrayal of alcohol drinking among young people without a counterbalance of the negative aspects associated with drinking.
It is apparent from the research that access to such media is not controlled by age restrictions or watershades partly because there has been a shift in the ways in which young people access fictional media arising from its availability online and 24 hour recall. Such media depictions emerge through a range of media presentations, many of which are funded by the alcohol industry as a part of a sophisticated, self-interested multi million euro messaging service.
The challenge of prejudice driven policy making in this area has been highlighted in the project findings where academic research is ignored or sidelined.
The conflicts of interest inherent in the stance supported by some policy makers, many of whom have economic interests in the alcohol industry, or for Member State governments where economies are supported by income from the promotion of alcohol drinking amongst young people, have emrged as a serious obstacle to inform debate and reform within the European Union.