Purpose

RRForum brings together public and private stakeholders—regulatory and enforcement agencies; attorneys general; public health agencies and advocates; retailers and their associations; distributors and producers; and researchers — in order to

  • identify and promulgate Best Practices to prevent underage sales of age-restricted products; and

  • examine the impacts of RR policies from the diverse perspectives of these different stakeholders.

The Organization

Originally a joint project of the Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University and the Florida Center for Prevention Research at Florida State University, RRForum is now a 501 (C) 3 non-profit corporation. The President of RRForum is Brad Krevor, Ph.D. The Research team consists additionally of scientists from Brandeis University, Boston University School of Public Health and the Prevention Research Center, PIRE. The Florida Center for Prevention Research maintains the RRForum web site.

 

RR Forum Board of Directors

Background

RRForum has emerged from the work of state attorneys general who—under the authority of Consumer Protection statutes—have been engaging national retail chains in efforts to improve their age-verification and underage sales refusal for age-restricted products.  Retailers already had adopted policies to prohibit unlawful sales to minors, but these policies did not translate into appropriate and consistent store-level conduct.  Through a series of regional meetings in 1999 organized by Brandeis University’s Heller School with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, it became clear that retailers already had adopted policies to prohibit unlawful sales to minors, but these policies did not translate into appropriate and consistent store-level conduct. Then, in March 2000, Brandeis conducted a meeting for national stakeholders in Washington, D.C., hosted by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to consider the feasibility—and desirability—of public-private cooperation in promoting effective RR policies and practices. Although the desire for further dialogue was strong, the potential for public-private cooperation was impeded by the lack of certainty as to what specific measures would be effective in reducing unlawful underage sales.

In response to this dilemma, the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (part of SAMHSA) commissioned a federal guidance document, Report on Best Practices for Responsible Retailing (“Best Practices Report”), under the direction of Dr. Brad Krevor of the Heller School. The Best Practices Report contained three principal innovations:

  • identification of the constituent parts of Responsible Retailing;

  • emphasis upon managerial systems to supervise, incentivize, and monitor clerk conduct, and

  • calls upon public agencies not only to enforce sales to minors laws, but also to assist retailers in identifying and implementing Responsible Retailing Best Practices—an “enforcement + assistance” model. The Best Practices Report recognizes that the performance of store-level Responsible Retailing practices is affected by a community context and by state- and community-level laws, policies and resources.

RRForum was established in early 2003 as a way of continuing the discussions among national stakeholders who participated in the meetings with attorneys general and in the development of the Best Practices Report. Through its field studies to operationalize, and evaluate (see Field Studies), the recommendations of the Best Practices Report, RRForum is now closely associated with this “enforcement + assistance” model. In June, 2006, RRForum became a separate legal, non-profit corporation. In January, 2007, RRForum received IRS approval for tax-exempt, 501(C)3 status.

National Involvement
Policy Examination

RRForum conducts periodic examinations of aspects of public and private RR policy.

  • In 2004-2005, a Policy Work Group presented an examination of three RR policy areas: “zero tolerance” policies (i.e. automatic termination for employees who sell to a minor); appropriate penalty structures for clerks and licensees; and incentive policies to encourage licensees to adopt and sustain aggressive RR policies.
  • In 2006-2007, the Policy Work Group conducted an examination of implementation issues relating to the newly enacted STOP Act, which was discussed in a plenary session at the 2007 RRForum national meeting and presented formally to SAMHSA in November, 2007.

To view the full report, click here.

Field Studies

RRForum has partnered with state regulatory / enforcement agencies and retail associations to operationalize the “enforcement + assistance” model. In Birmingham, AL, Des Moines, IA, Springfield, MO and Santa Fe, NM between September 2003 and May 2005, RRForum and its state partners pilot-tested a quality improvement tool to assist retailers to identify and implement Best Practices identified in the Best Practices Report and a Mystery Shopper Reporting System to provide retailers with detailed feedback on actual store conduct as a quality assurance tool. In late 2005, RRForum began a community roll-out of the new RR model, starting in Albuquerque, NM, with two additional study sites—Iowa City, IA and Waltham, MA—launched in 2006. Data from these pilot projects led to an award from the National Institutes of Health in 2009 to develop and validate sustainable Responsible Retailing systems based upon this model. Additional field research has examined policies, technologies and strategies to achieve high compliance with laws relating to underage sales, 3rd party sales and over-service.

National Conference

RRForum conducts a national meeting that brings together diverse public and private stakeholders to present academic research and state and community field projects identifying Best Practices for RR and to examine topical RR issues.The first RRForum, in 2003, attracted approximately 45 representatives of alcohol producers, state attorneys generals, regulatory and enforcement agencies, national retail chains / associations, and researchers shared (somewhat warily!) their own perspectives on the problems of underage sales and use and their perceptions of other stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities for these problems and their potential remedies. RRForum has continued to bring together these diverse stakeholders in an annual conference held under the sponsorship of a state alcohol regulatory agency with whom RRForum has been working. Public health and prevention stakeholders are now part of the frank discourse with researchers, regulators, public health and safety agencies and retailers and their industry partners.

  • The 1st RRForum, in 2003, attracted approximately 45 representatives of alcohol producers, state attorneys generals, regulatory and enforcement agencies, national retail chains / associations, and researchers shared (somewhat warily!) their own perspectives on the problems of underage sales and use and their perceptions of other stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities for these problems and their potential remedies.
  • In the 2nd RRForum (Las Vegas, NV February 2004), the participants had grown to almost 80, reflecting additional representation of the Federal Trade Commission, the public health community and prevention agents; and the dialogue grew more frank as participants started to listen more attentively and openly to one another and to recognize that organizations with very different perspectives and objectives could nevertheless cooperate to achieve the common goal of reducing underage sales.
  • In the 3rd RRForum (Santa Fe, NM March 2005), attendance grew to approximately 100 individuals representing 31 states and over 45,000 retail outlets (including Wal-Mart, ExxonMobil, Southland, British Petroleum, Walgreens), major brewers and distillers and national advocates.
  • In the 4th RRForum (Washington, D.C. April 18-20), again with over 100 attendees representing 29 states, including a special pre-conference meeting for Washington-based stakeholders representing national associations and federal agencies. The 5th national conference was again held in Santa Fe, NM (April 8-9. 2007).
  • See RR Conference Page for additional details.
2017 Responsible Retailing Forum

The 2017 RRForum national conference will be held in San Francisco at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Monday, April 24 and Tuesday, April 25.