Making Safe Choices – April is Alcohol Awareness Month

We here at TAM® of Nevada like to promote alcohol awareness and responsible drinking year round. However, we’re happy to help spread the message that April is Alcohol Awareness Month. This is an opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe life choices, as well as to highlight the role that servers and sellers have in protecting their communities. Good judgment and knowledge of the Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM)® are crucial qualities in a service professional; and Alcohol Awareness Month is an opportunity for you to showcase your training!

This month, we encourage you to take this time to educate yourself, your bar patrons, and your loved ones about the dangers of alcohol abuse. In Nevada alone, of the 257 traffic fatalities in 2010, 69 of them, or 27%, involved alcohol-impaired driving (NHTSA). This is an unacceptable number, but you can help make a difference, and possibly save lives, by practicing responsible beverage service. Bartenders, waiters and anyone else who serves alcoholic beverages have a legal and moral responsibility to serve alcohol responsibly, keep a close eye on their patrons, and promote an alternative means of getting home if anyone appears intoxicated. For tips on what you can do to reduce the chance your patrons will be involved in impaired-driving accidents, read our blog post, “DUI-Related Traffic Deaths Up This Year in Southern Nevada – Are You Doing All You Can to Help Prevent Drunk Driving?

Remember that the goal of Alcohol Awareness Month is to not only increase public awareness, and work to reduce impaired driving, but to also aim at reducing the stigma that too often prevents individuals and families from seeking help if they have a drinking problem. One should never be afraid to ask for the help they need. One can ask for help from a friend, family member or doctor if necessary.

This month, reflect on your own habits and those of your patrons. Do you recognize the signs of alcohol abuse and binge drinking in yourself or others? If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Keep track of how much you drink, avoid places where overdrinking occurs, and find new ways to deal with stress. If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help. In fact, many drinkers are not aware that they are misusing or abusing alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, drinking more than 4 drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men, or more than 3 drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week for women is considered “at-risk” or “heavy” drinking (NIAAA).

How will you promote safe choices and alcohol awareness this month?

Resources

© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

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Warning: Older Adults under Financial Strain May Be at Risk for Drinking More

It is tough times for many Americans in today’s economy, and some people are feeling the financial strain heading in to the holiday season. And, a recent study from researchers at the State University of New York at Albany, as reported by ABC News, found that older adults, especially men and people with less education, are more likely to drink and smoke when experiencing financial difficulties. Are you prepared for the holiday blues?

As explained in the study results, older adults may be at-risk for becoming heavy drinkers due to a number of issues including stress over financial uncertainty. In fact, among study participants, men who experienced financial difficulties were about 30% more likely to begin heavily drinking when compared with men who did not have money problems.

Bartenders and service professionals may notice an uptick in the number of patrons visiting their establishments to relax and unwind around the holidays, and should remain vigilant about responsible service. If you work in or run an establishment that serves or sells alcoholic beverages, you should always take precautions to safeguard your patrons, company, yourself and your community. Let’s not forget, during the holidays, 2-3 times more people die in alcohol related crashes, and 40% of traffic fatalities involve a driver who is impaired by alcohol (NIAAA). All patrons, young and old, should be monitored for over-consumption. Make sure you are employing all of the safe service techniques that you learned during your TAM® training!

For more information on how to be prepared for selling and serving drinks during the holiday season, make sure to read our blog posts, “Big Holiday Parties Are Upon Us,” and “Beware of Binge Drinkers.” Remember, hospitality is all about creating a fun experience and maintaining a safe environment for your guests and patrons. We would love to hear from you! What recommendations do you have for keeping the holidays fun and safe for your guests this season?

Resources

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

 

Are You Doing All You Can to Prevent Drunk Driving?

Every 30 minutes someone dies in an alcohol-related crash. And, did you know? Alcohol is a factor in 6% of all traffic crashes, and over 40% of all fatal crashes (National Safety Council). These are startling facts that one cannot simply ignore. Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous activities someone can engage in. It’s also 100% preventable.

An alcoholic beverage service professional has a legal and moral responsibility to serve alcohol responsibly, keep a close eye on imbibing patrons, and promote an alternative means of getting home if anyone appears too drunk to drive. One should make sure guests can make it home safely without injuring themselves or others.

Remember, drunk driving is always dangerous, and not just to the driver. Pedestrians, passengers and others on the road can all become victims. Recently in the early morning hours on April 28th, a woman was killed when she was hit by a suspected drunk driver on the Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas Sun). This is another terrible reminder of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.

Some people are able to ignore the facts. But remember, a victim of a drunk driver is someone’s sister, brother, mother, father, friend, coworker, etc. The Transport Accident Commission in Australia created an incredible PSA on the dangers of drunk driving which can be viewed here. This is a graphic video, but one of the most powerful PSAs we’ve ever seen at TAM® of Nevada. This video is certain to hit close to home for some, and sharing with others will help spread the message that drunk driving is never the answer.

There are a few things you can do to support and promote this message with your patrons.

  1. Complete your alcohol awareness course with TAM® of Nevada to learn about responsible beverage service. Course highlights include identifying false identification, clinical effects of alcohol, laws, rules and regulations, customer disturbances and service guidelines.
  2. Become familiar with sober driving services available in southern Nevada. Keep the number to a reliable cab company and any other sober driver services at your bar so that you can make the call whenever necessary. Companies like Designated Drivers, Inc. provide a responsible alternative to driving while impaired. A driver will be dispatched to take your patron home in their own vehicle, no worrying about retrieving their car after they sober up.
  3. If a group of guests is at your establishment and an individual within the group is becoming intoxicated, check with a sober member of their group to make sure that they have a plan to get the intoxicated individual home safely. If there is no designated driver assigned, offer to call a cab or sober driver service.
  4. Familiarize yourself with company policies when it comes to intoxicated patrons and suspected drunk drivers. Alert your manager or supervisor if you need to cut someone off, if you need them to intervene in the situation, or if you have any concerns about a guest’s safety.
  5. If you have a friend or family member that you worry may have a drinking problem, and may be at risk to drive drunk, do what you can to get them the help they need. Refer to our blog post “April is Alcohol Awareness Month” for tips on how to recognize a drinking problem, and how to help.

Drunk driving is a serious problem that can affect so many. What tips would you give someone else to help prevent intoxicated individuals from getting behind the wheel of a car?

Resources

Drunk Driving – National Safety Council

Woman, 28, accused of DUI after collision kills pedestrian on Las Vegas Strip – Las Vegas Sun

Designated Drivers, Inc.

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

The Return of Four Loko – Even Without Caffeine, Still Popular with Teens

The ban on caffeinated alcoholic beverages, also called alcopop, was one of the biggest stories in the beverage service and sales industry in 2010. Popular beverages such as Four Loko were called dangerous, a binge in a can, and worse. Last November the Food and Drug Administration declared alcoholic energy drinks to be a public health concern. The FDA concluded that caffeine added to malt alcoholic beverages was an unsafe food additive (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

What made the combination so dangerous? The FDA raised concerns that caffeine additives may have masked some of the effects consumers typically rely on to determine their level of intoxication. In fact, drinkers who consume alcohol mixed with energy drinks are 3 times more likely to binge drink than drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). All of this was alarming enough to get these drinks pulled off of shelves, but also concerning was their popularity with teens and young adults.

Four Loko was, and continues to be, extremely popular with teens. A single can of Four Loko came in at 23.5 ounces, contained 12% alcohol, and also contained unsafe additives caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Four Loko came in much larger, and more potent, than a can of beer. In fact, concerns were raised that these drinks were marketed to appeal directly to teens (Marin Institute).

Several months later, Four Loko is back on shelves, without the caffeinated punch. The drinks have been reformulated and no longer contain additives like caffeine, but they still come in 23.5 ounce containers with 12% alcohol by volume (Omaha World-Herald). Teens may not realize they are consuming as much alcohol as they are until they are well on their way to unsafe intoxication. Four Loko still comes in fruity, teen-friendly flavors like fruit punch and watermelon. It also continues to be the drink of choice for many young people around the country (Bar Business Magazine).

What can you do as a beverage service professional to keep teens safe?

  1. Make sure that ‘alcopops’ such as Four Loko sold off-premises are displayed in areas dedicated to alcoholic beverages, not in the soft drink section. Many of these drinks can be easily confused for non-alcoholic energy drinks, and it just makes it easier on everyone involved to keep them separate.
  2. Always card anyone who appears to be under the age of 30. Retailers and off-site sales professionals should be diligent about checking IDs to make sure teenagers are not trying to purchase liquor with fake or borrowed identification.
  3. For more ways to help curb teens’ access to alcohol, read our blog post, “Teen Drinking is a Dangerous Business,” and refer to We Don’t Serve Teens’ suggestions.

What policies have you instituted at your organization to deter teen drinking?

Resources

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada