A failure on the part of soap operas in the UK to feature the risks of alcohol abuse in their storylines could affect under 18's views on drinking, according to recent research.

Alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware has released research today (8 December) claiming that, on average, over a third (38%) of soap air time features alcohol. From examining four top soaps broadcast in the UK, the research shows that characters were more often than not depicted drinking alcohol to socialise or as a celebration. Only extreme storylines show the harmful effects of alcohol misuse.

Chris Sorek, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: "We need to avoid normalising the idea of consequence-free drinking to excess, especially among under 18s, so people of all ages can make informed decisions about their own drinking based on the facts"

Drinkaware warned that, with 42% of 11- to 17-year-olds watching pre-watershed soaps, the programmes are not depicting the negative effects of too much alcohol consumption enough.

As a result, Drinkaware has requested meetings with UK broadcasters and has developed recommendations to encourage soap opera producers to highlight the risks associated with alcohol misuse.