Young Thai People's Exposure to Alcohol Portrayals in Society and the Media: A Qualitative Study for Policy Implications
Background: Although previous quantitative studies have documented the association between exposure to alcohol portrayals and drinking attitudes in Western countries, few qualitative studies have explored this matter in Thailand. A better understanding of the association in young Thais is required for a more efficient alcohol policy development. This study aims to explore the information young Thais have learnt from exposure to alcohol portrayals in society and the media, examine how this exposure shapes their drinking attitudes, and investigate the alignment of policy-makers' views on drinking with those of young people.
Methods: Two qualitative research methods were employed. Seventy-two university students (38 men, 34 women) aged 20-24 participated in focus groups conducted on campus. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with academia, civil society and representatives from government who were involved in alcohol policy. Recorded data were transcribed verbatim, systematically coded and analysed using content analysis.
Results: Young Thais were regularly exposed to alcohol portrayals, particularly on social media and in their social environment. Being increasingly exposed to alcohol portrayals, particularly on social media, and the role of the alcohol industry emerged as concerning matters to the academia and civil society sectors. In response to the concerns, the government social media monitoring and alcohol censorship had become more challenging.
Conclusions: This study reflects the growing concerns from academia and civil society sectors of the impacts of increased alcohol exposure and the role that the industry may have on young people's drinking attitudes. It highlights the need for response to significant policy challenges to reduce these impacts.