Conroe to Test Responsible Alcohol Retailing Program
Retailers Are Key to Keeping Teens Safe
Conroe, TX – Conroe’s teens may soon find it more difficult to purchase alcohol from local businesses. Starting this month, the Responsible Retailing Forum will launch and evaluate an innovative, six-month program designed to help Conroe bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other alcohol outlets insure that staff are not selling alcohol to those under 21 years old.
“Helping licensees to better comply with our alcohol laws is in everyone’s best interest,” said Sgt. Robert Engel, Conroe Police Department. “Law enforcement has a role, but we know from experience that everyone in the community has an important role in dealing with the problem of illegal sales to minors. I’m glad that the Responsible Retailing Forum (RRForum) chose to work in our city, and that our community is working together to keep our teens safe.”
The RRForum will focus on 30 to 40 licensees, all randomly selected. As a first step, the owners and managers will assess their current efforts, after which the RRForum will advise them on a set of “best practices” for encouraging staff to do a better job of checking IDs and refusing sales to minors. A key feature of the program is the use of mystery shoppers—young, legal-age inspectors (ages 21-24) who ask to purchase or be served an alcoholic beverage. Retailers generally ask their staff to check ID for any customer who appears to be under the age of 30.
“Whether an individual outlet failed to check ID will be kept confidential,” explained Brad Krevor, RRForum’s founding director, “but we will be sharing combined mystery shopper results with key stakeholders throughout the community, including retailers whose stores are not being visited by a mystery shopper.” This feedback provides a way to monitor the project’s success and inform further improvements, Krevor noted.
“Most retailers are committed to improving their own practices and doing their part to keep alcohol away from teens, and this program helps them achieve that commitment,” said Shannon Adams of RRForum. In past studies, RRForum’s program has produced dramatic increases in ID checking among the participating retailers, and we’re proud to assist these responsible retailers in this national effort.”
For the current evaluation study, Conroe is being paired with another Texas community that will serve as a “control community.” The research study also includes a second pair of Texas communities as well as two pairs of communities each in California, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.
RRForum is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization that engages public and private stakeholders to promote responsible retailing. In 2009, through its technical services arm (RRF Field Services LLC) RRF received a National Institutes of Health award to develop sustainable responsible retailing systems for cities, states and trade associations. Organizations sponsoring and assisting in this effort include Diageo, the Distilled Spirits Council of the US, MillerCoors, National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, National Beer Wholesalers Association, American Beverage Licensees and numerous state regulators, distributors and retail associations.