Over-service of alcohol in bars and restaurants contributes to an array of community problems, including drinking and driving, crime, and violence

January 28, 2021
Media Contact: Dr. Brad Krevor: (617) 454-4676; krevor@rrforum.org

Boston, Massachusetts —Over-service of alcohol in bars and restaurants contributes to an array of community problems, including drinking and driving, crime, and violence.  The Responsible Retailing Forum (RRForum) has completed a study using “pseudo-intoxicated” mystery shoppers to evaluate the SSTOP program (Stop Service to Obviously-impaired Patrons) to help bars and restaurants reduce over-service. In 18 California college communities, actors exhibiting obvious signs of impairment visited establishments frequented by young patrons and asked to be served an alcoholic beverage.  After each of three visits, owner-operators were notified whether staff offered to serve customers who were already clearly impaired.  Additionally, the SSTOP program provided a link to online videos for managers and staff reinforcing responsible alcohol service conduct.   

“Baseline data prior to the SSTOP implementation showed that the prevalence of over-service was high, almost 90%, slightly higher but not inconsistent with previous studies,” according to Joel Grube, PhD, Senior Scientist at the Prevention Research Center / Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) who headed the evaluation of SSTOP.  “Unfortunately, the SSTOP inspections, reports, and training resources failed to reduce the over-service rates. Given the public health consequences of over-service, we need to develop programs that effectively address this issue.”

The failure of SSTOP to move the needle on over-service / over-consumption was surprising to Brad Krevor, PhD, RRForum President and the Principal Investigator for the NIAAA-funded research to develop and evaluate SSTOP. RRForum’s earlier study of 21 Matterstm showed that feedback from young, legal-age mystery shoppers improved ID-checking rates significantly — from the low 80’s to the low 90’s. “We thought reporting whether staff over-served pseudo-intoxicated actors would increase compliance with over-service laws, at least temporarily.” Whether the ineffectiveness of SSTOP indicates a cultural acceptance of over-service in college communities or whether it shows that licensees and their staff have little or no concern that over-service will have consequences for them, needs to be explored.”

Media Contact:  Dr. Brad Krevor: krevor@rrforum.org (617) 454-4676.

The Responsible Retailing Forum’s mission is to develop, evaluate, and promote best practices to prevent underage sales of alcohol, tobacco, and other age-restricted products and to reduce alcohol overservice at on-premises alcohol outlets. A key point of focus is helping retailers develop and implement management systems for supervising, incentivizing, and monitoring staff performance. RRForum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Waltham, Massachusetts. To learn more about RRForum, please contact RRForum’s President, Dr. Brad S. Krevor at krevor@rrforum.org. The ‘Report on the Respect 21™ Responsible Retailing Program’ is under ‘Reports and Articles’ on the RRForum webpage: https://rrforum.org/communications/