Monday, September 14, 2009

Alcohol Merchant Incentive Program.

Alcohol consumption by the youth of Van Buren County is a problem of great concern to the community. According to the Iowa Youth Survey, alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among Van Buren County’s youth. Underage alcohol use is a public health and safety problem in Van Buren County, creating serious personal, social, and economic consequences for adolescents, their families and the community as well.

In 2007 the Surgeon General issued a “Call to Action” to prevent and reduce underage drinking. In it, law enforcement agencies were encouraged to “enforce uniformly and consistently all policies and laws against underage alcohol use”.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, routine, comprehensive compliance checks are the key strategy for deterring commercial alcohol sales to minors.

In an effort to assist businesses in training their employees on the applicable Iowa laws with regard to alcohol sales to minors as well as sales to intoxicated customers, the Van Buren SAFE Coalition provides a Merchant Alcohol Training that is free to all businesses and their employees in Van Buren County. Persons who attend the training learn about a variety of topics, some of which are listed below: * How to spot underage drinkers * Prevent sales to minors * How to recognize the signs of intoxication * How to intervene quickly and effectively in potential problem situations * Skills in handling refusal situations with greater confidence

In order to encourage all alcohol merchants in Van Buren County to have all of their employees trained, an incentive program has been established. The details of the program are as follows:

Businesses can avoid being reported to Alcohol Beverage Division and subjected to an administrative penalty as a result of the compliance check under the following conditions:

A licensee fails a compliance check by one of their employees selling alcohol to an underage person, and the employee who failed the compliance check has a current Merchant Alcohol Training certificate from the Van Buren SAFE Coalition(*).
The violation must be the first offense in a two year time period. The two-year period will begin on the date of the first violation occurring after this program has been established.

(*) Any business wishing to complete an alternative training program must get approval of the training program by the Sheriff’s Department prior to the compliance check. However, it is the business owner/manager’s responsibility to notify Chief Deputy Brad Hudison with the Sheriff’s Department of such trainings prior to the compliance check in order to meet the criteria of this incentive program.

This program will be effective immediately and any persons who have a current Merchant Alcohol Training certificate will meet the criteria of the incentive program. Certificates are valid for two years from the date of training. Anyone wishing to obtain a list of employees with a current certificate should contact Tonja Jirak, STOP Project Director with the Van Buren SAFE Coalition at 319-288-0912.

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