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

 

Advertisement

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

Are Your Safe Beverage Service Policies Working? If Not, It Could Cost You

A recent news story regarding the accidental service of an alcoholic beverage to a minor is making waves, and it serves to remind us exactly why alcohol awareness education is so important. A toddler was recently served an alcohol-infused margarita mix in place of apple juice at an Applebee’s restaurant in Michigan, possibly the result of a mislabeled bottle at the bar. You can read the full story on The Detroit News’ website here.

New procedures have been put in place by the company to prevent this type of mistake from happening again, but the damage has already been done. The parents are suing, and there is a monstrous wave of bad publicity for the Applebee’s franchise. Luckily, the child who consumed the beverage and began behaving strangely is OK, but he did register a .10 BAC, more than the legal limit of intoxication for an adult driver. Worth noting and also alarming is that this is the fourth such related incident reported since 2006 for Applebee’s. This is why staff training and alcohol awareness education is so important. There are legal, ethical and moral obligations to keep patrons, of all ages, safe.

Policy changes put into place by Applebee’s include only using apple juice from single-serve containers and retraining staff on beverage pouring policies and procedures. You can read Applebee’s response regarding the event and more about their new procedures here.

As a reminder to all hospitality workers, there are a few common-sense solutions that everyone can use to make sure that patrons are receiving what they ordered, and are being served safely and responsibly.

  1. Store alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages separately, and make sure containers are labeled properly so that bartenders and servers are aware of the contents. A pitcher may look like it contains juice or something else recognizable, but if you aren’t 100% sure of the contents, do not serve it.
  2. Double check that your guests are being served exactly what they ordered. If you deliver beverages to your guests, aside from visually inspecting the glass to make sure that they are receiving their correct beverage choice, you can repeat the beverage name to the patron upon delivery to confirm with them that they are receiving exactly what they ordered. If another staff member delivers beverages to your patrons for you, swing by to make sure the order is correct and they are happy with their beverage.
  3. Always card your guests if they appear to be under 30. Hospitality workers need to be concerned not only with incorrect orders and beverages, but also underage patrons who are trying to illegally obtain alcoholic beverages. To learn more about recognizing a fake or borrowed ID, refer to our blog post, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” Most establishments also have a guidebook, like the I.D. Checking Guide, for validating various forms of identification. Ask your manager if you have a guide like this in your establishment and refer to it if needed. The I.D. Checking Guide can be purchased from TAM® here.

To learn more about safe beverage service, take the Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) ® course offered by TAM® of Nevada. Do you think this incident could have been prevented? What types of procedures does your establishment have in place to prevent these types of accidents from happening?

Resources

Toddler’s Alcoholic Drink Prompts Changes at Applebee’s – The Detroit News

Applebee’s Corporate Statement on Incident in Madison Heights, MI – Applebee’s

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada