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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
conducted and the methods used to identify outlets, and (d) plans for enforcing the law in the coming fiscal year.
Responsible Beverage Service and Sales
Responsible beverage service and sales programs implement a combination of outlet policies (e.g., requiring clerks or servers to check identification for all customers appearing to be under the age of 30; requiring all servers to be over 21), manager training (e.g., policy development and enforcement), and server training (e.g., teaching clerks and servers to recognize altered or false identification). Such programs can be implemented at both on-license and off-license establishments and have been shown to be effective in some circumstances. They have been found to reduce the number of intoxicated patrons leaving a bar (e.g., Dresser and Gliksman, 1998; Gliksman et al., 1993; Saltz, 1987, 1989) and to reduce the number of car crashes (e.g., Holder and Wagenaar, 1994).
Few studies have evaluated the effects of responsible beverage service and sales programs on underage drinking. In one study of an off-license program, voluntary clerk and manager training were found to have a negligible effect on sales to minors above and beyond the effects of increased enforcement (Grube, 1997). Similarly, a study in Australia found that, even after training, age identification was rarely checked in bars, although decreases in the number of intoxicated patrons were observed (Lang et al., 1996, 1998). In at least one study, however, training was associated with an increase in self-reported checking of identification by servers (Buka and Birdthistle, 1999), and the apparent changes in behavior persisted among trained servers for as long as 4 years. Another study reported an 11.5 percent decrease in sales to minors and a 46.0 percent decrease in sales to intoxicated patrons following individual manager training and policy development (Toomey et al., 2001). Voluntary programs appear to be less effective than mandatory programs or programs using incentives such as reduced liability (Dresser and Gliksman, 1998).
How responsible beverage service and sales programs are implemented and what elements are included in a particular program may be important determinants of their effectiveness. Policy development and implementation within outlets may be as important, if not more so, than server training (Saltz, 1997). Research indicates, for example, that establishments with firm and clear policies (e.g., checking ID for all patrons who appear under the age of 30) and a system for monitoring staff compliance are less likely to sell alcohol to minors (Wolfson et al., 1996a, 1996b). There are six key elements of successful outlet policies: (1) minimum age of 21 for all servers and sellers; (2) staff awareness of legal responsibility; (3) staff awareness of outlet policies and consequences for violating those policies; (4) identifica-