Teen Drinking: Tips for Stopping Third-Party Alcohol Sales

third party sales dangersAlcohol enforcement activities used to limit youth access to alcohol, everything from hospitality workers checking I.D. to police personnel enforcing the law and making arrests, are critical to reducing underage drinking and its often tragic consequences. One of the most problematic enforcement scenarios for sales professionals are third-party sales of alcoholic beverage products. In fact, research indicates that 30-70% of alcohol outlets may sell to underage buyers, depending partially on their geographic location (OJJPD).

A third-party sale occurs when an adult buys alcohol for someone underage, from a commercial establishment, for his or her underage consumption. In some cases, the adult will ask for or accept a fee and/or a portion of the alcohol in exchange for making the purchase. The amount of alcohol obtained by underage drinkers from these transactions can range from one drink in a bar to a keg of beer for a field party (OJJPD). A great example of this type of scenario is a teen approaching an adult stranger outside of a liquor store and asking the adult to purchase liquor for them in exchange for a small fee.

Many teens report that they most often obtain alcohol from others over the age of 21, so enforcement of third party sales must be a high priority. In fact, a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that 51% of 18-20 year olds in Nevada have engaged in underage drinking within the past month, and 36% have engaged in binge drinking within the last month (SAMHSA). This indicates that teens are finding ways to obtain and consume alcoholic beverages, despite best efforts on the part of sales professionals and police.

Off-site premises workers at grocery or convenience stores don’t necessarily know that if they sell beer and liquor to a legal adult, the adult won’t provide that liquor to teenagers. But, using best judgment techniques and following store procedures will help to keep things safe and legal.

The national campaign We Don’t Serve Teens from the FTC Consumer Education section makes excellent and common-sense suggestions for helping to curb teenage drinking from off-site sales. Tips include simple procedures such as creating and maintaining sales and service policies that every staffer should follow (We Don’t Serve Teens – FTC). Everyone involved in sales should be aware of store policies regarding acceptable forms of ID, when and how to refuse a sale, etc. Other simple suggestions include:

  • If you work in a commercial establishment, keep an eye on the front of the property if possible, and report any minors loitering around the entrance or parking lot to your manager or supervisor. This could be evidence of minors trying to approach customers to purchase alcoholic beverages on their behalf.
  • Make sure that ‘alcopops’ and mixed, carbonated malt liquor beverages frequently 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. As a sales professional, be extra cautious when making these types of sales. Sweet and fizzy alcoholic beverages are a favorite among teen drinkers.
  • Always card anyone who appears to be under the age of 30 and make sure to observe the character and demeanor of your customer. 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.
  • Make sure to complete your mandatory alcohol awareness training from TAM® of Nevada. TAM® teaches thousands of off-site and on-site sales professionals how to safely and responsibly serve and sell alcoholic beverages each year, including preventing third party sales. TAM® will also educate you on important local, state and federal laws that apply to alcohol sales.

Readers: Now it’s your turn! Share your best tips and tricks for helping to stop teen drinking in the Comments section below.



Brand Loyalty Among Underage Drinkers

teen drink preferencesWhile the rate of alcohol abuse among teens has fallen in recent years, it still represents a huge, and dangerous, problem. In fact, underage drinking accounted for over 189,000 emergency room visits in 2010 (SAMHSA). Researchers, advocates and policy experts are hard at work to find ways to reduce teen drinking. In the meantime, a new finding about the choices made by teen drinkers has emerged out of a study from Boston University and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Not only are teenagers getting their hands on alcoholic beverages for the purpose of binge drinking, they have brand-driven alcohol preferences. Some results from the study include:

  • Binge drinking among young people is highly prevalent. 67% of drinks consumed by teens aged 13 to 20 done so as part of binge drinking episodes.
  • 14% of those survey reported having drunk Bud Light at least once, followed by 7% have drunk Jack Daniel’s bourdon. Other popular choices were Smirnoff malt beverages, Budweiser, and Coors Light.
  • There is no strong trend toward one particular type of alcoholic beverage. The 25 most cited brands are diverse, and include beers, vodkas, whiskeys, rums, malt beverages, and cognacs.

For more information on study results, refer to the Washington Post article, “What underage drinkers drink when they binge drink.”

How can hospitality professionals help to prevent underage drinking? It only takes a minute to check an ID and prevent a minor from entering a bar and buying a drink. Gas stations, grocery stores and liquor stores are also places that teens turn to in order to purchase liquor, especially canned or bottled beer packs and malt liquors. Staffers at those establishments should take steps to ensure they are doing all they can to prevent illegal sales.

The RR Forum makes excellent and common-sense suggestions for helping to curb teenage drinking from off-site sales. For their tips, you may refer to the article on the FTC website at “Alcohol Retailers Can Help Reduce Teen Drinking.” Everyone involved in sales should be TAM®-certified, aware of store policies regarding acceptable forms of ID, and also when and how to refuse a sale.

How else do you think service workers can help curb teen drinking?


© 2014 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

New High-Tech Fake IDs Are a Legitimate Concern for Beverage Professionals

teens at a clubTeenagers can be sneaky, especially when they want to make their way into the hottest 21+ Las Vegas clubs. Businesses and service professionals should always remain focused when carding individuals who appear to be under 35 years of age. Recently, more sophisticated and convincing fake IDs have begun appearing on the market. This new breed of fake identification, complete with watermarks and barcodes, is popping up in more and more states, and it can be almost impossible to tell them apart from the real thing. At a cost of less than $200, enterprising teenagers and young adults are able to purchase very realistic fake driver’s licenses on the internet, often from suppliers in China, and they are finding it easier than ever to enter bars and clubs or purchase liquor.

According to a news story from the News4 I-Team, a test was performed using a scanning device popular with bar bouncers and taverns, and many seized licenses held by police were tested. Approximately 100 of those tested successfully deceived the machine, reading and displaying on the scanner as if authentic. To learn more about these new fake ID’s, check out News4’s article on the subject.

Are you aware of these new high-tech fake IDs, and are you making sure you are doing all you can to check the legitimacy of the identification presented to you? Make sure you are up-to-date on your TAM® training to additional learn tips and tricks for checking ID, and remain vigilant about traditional ways to spot bogus identification. Checking for valid identification is a major component of TAM® training.

Still want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help prevent underage drinking? Check out our blog posts, “Are Minors Using Fake IDs and Sneaking Past You?” and “ID Scanners – Another Weapon to Combat Underage Drinking

TAM Students: What are your experiences regarding the use of ID scanners? What would have been helpful to know when you first started checking IDs?


© 2014 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Las Vegas Teens Learn About the Dangers of Drinking and Driving

Late last week, local Las Vegas Legacy High School juniors and seniors learned a tough lesson about the dangers of driving while impaired. With the Every Fifteen Minutes program, participants were guided through a unique and powerful 2-day event complete with student and parent involvement, mock obituaries being read about participating students, and even a chance to tour what looked like an active fatal accident scene involving friends and peers.

By giving teens a close-up look at the real and tragic consequences of driving while impaired, there is hope that students will take the lessons to heart and make safe choices for themselves in the future. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has partnered with the Clark County and Las Vegas Fire Departments, University Medical Center, Clark County Coroner’s Office, Mercy Air, Ambulance services, Palm Mortuary and a host of sponsors to create this unique learning experience for Clark County teens.

Teens often have feelings of invincibility about dangerous choices and feel like nothing bad could possibly happen to them. By launching an interactive program to demonstrate the dangers of what could happen to them and other teens like them, it drives the point home. To learn more about the Every Fifteen Minutes program and activities, visit the LVMP website.

The program’s name was derived from the fact that in the early 1990’s, every fifteen minutes, someone in the United States died in an alcohol-related traffic collision. The NHTSA now estimates that the number of fatal alcohol-related collisions is lower. Now, approximately every 51 minutes, someone dies in a drunk-driving related traffic collision. As a TAM® Card holder or hospitality worker, are you doing all you can to help bring the number of drunk-driving related accidents even lower?

Remember to remain vigilant:

  • Display signage in your store or bar announcing that purchasers of alcohol will be carded.
  • Report any suspicious behavior or activity among patrons to your supervisor or manager.
  • Keep up-to-date with your TAM® training.
  • ALWAYS check identification carefully, especially for anyone who appears to be under the age of 30.

What you do think about the Every Fifteen Minutes program? What policies have you instituted at your business to help deter teen drinking?


© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada