While 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?
- Highlights of the 2010 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) Findings on Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits – SAMHSA
- What Underage Drinkers Drink When They Binge Drink – The Washington Post
- Alcohol Retailers Can Help Reduce Teen Drinking – Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information
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