As the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition continues efforts to enhance the quality of life through a safer community, it is looking closely at environmental changes that can reduce underage drinking. Because local businesses sell alcohol beverages, they undoubtedly share the goal of the coalition to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors.
Members of the coalition have received training about these environmental prevention strategies through the Youth Leadership Institute (communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol, or CMCA, training). They learned that evidence shows a minor’s likelihood of drinking is impacted not only by the availability of alcohol, but by more subtle factors such as the number of an establishments alcohol ads both inside and out, placement of those ads, placement of alcohol, regularity of I.D. checks, special promotions and age requirement signage.
The SAFE Coalition designed an evaluation instrument to measure the advertising in local alcohol retailers, all retailers in the county are scanned each spring. In the spring of 2013, they graded nine establishments with liquor licenses in Van Buren County and the results reveal some great news:
o Boyd Grocery and Casey’s both received overall grades of A!
o Six of the establishments received a grade of B or higher for their overall grade.
o All nine of the establishments received a grade of B or higher for Alcohol Advertising.
o Seven of the establishments received a grade of B or higher for Tobacco Advertising.
o Six of the establishments had signage regarding age requirements for buying/ordering alcohol and the subsequent penalties.
o All nine businesses improved or maintained their overall grade from the 2012 evaluation.
The SAFE Coalition sent each business their results from the 2013 evaluations, and a list of strategies establishments can employ to reduce underage drinking. They also encouraged the businesses to review the strategies they are already using. The coalition can help implement new strategies to support establishment’s current ones.