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

Alcoholic Beverage Service at Special Events – Are You Following the Law?

iStock_000010753481XSmallContrary to popular belief, Alcohol Awareness Cards ARE required for anyone selling or serving alcoholic beverages for any length of time, including special one-time events and the TAM® Card is the one you should have. We often receive calls asking if TAM Cards are needed for individuals who will be working to sell or serve alcoholic beverages for festivals, special weekend events, and similar situations. Even if you will only be working in this type of position for a short period of time, an Alcohol Awareness Card is still mandatory.

Taking it a step further, new and veteran TAM® Card holders alike should know that ID Checking, even at special events, is a huge responsibility. Room service, banquets, conventions, race tracks, quinceañeras, weddings, festivals, company picnics and celebrations, concession stands, and the list goes on! ID Checking at special events is absolutely imperative – are you following the letter of the law?

A recent news story out of Reno concerns ID checking at a local “wine walk” festival. An alarming 84% of businesses failed alcohol compliance checks during the event (KOLO). A common practice at many festivals and special events, such as this one, is to check for participant ID during event registration. The participant may receive a special arm band, badge, stamp, beverage glass, or other item that identifies them as a registered participant of legal drinking age. However, an event wristband does not relieve servers from verifying a customer is of age.

In the case of the recent Reno wine walk, purchase of a wristband and special wine glass was used to identify participants and allow them to sample wine from a variety of area restaurants. In cases such as this, it would be very easy for one individual of legal drinking age to purchase a wristband, but then give the wristband to an underage drinker. This scenario illustrates why it is important to ALWAYS check identification and should serve as a reminder that just because a participant may have a special event pass, that does not relieve the server from checking for photo ID.

The same holds true for special events such as weddings and other banquet events. Even if a wedding reception is “adults only”, a bartender should follow procedure to card anyone who appears to be 30 years of age or younger. It is better to be safe than sorry, and helps to keep underage guests safe.

For more information on TAM® Card Requirements, refer to our blog post, “Need a TAM® Card for the Busy Summer Season? A Rundown on Requirements.” Remember, remain vigilant, and always practice the Techniques of Alcohol Management in order to provide responsible beverage service. What other advice would you give regarding alcoholic beverage service during special events?


84% of Businesses Fail Underage Alcohol Compliance Check During Wine Walk – Kolo 8 News Now

© 2013 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

ID Scanners – Another Weapon to Combat Underage Drinking

Routine decoy operations are continuing across the state of Nevada from Reno to Henderson, and establishments and business owners are taking note. As we reported in a recent blog post, “The City of Reno Has Suspended Alcohol Licenses for Several Businesses for Selling Alcohol to Minors,” businesses and hospitality professionals should always remain alert and focused when selling or serving alcoholic beverages. Is your staff prepared to pass with flying colors if they are approached by undercover officers conducting an alcohol compliance check? With continued efforts across the state of Nevada to cut down on teenage drinking, alcohol sales professionals can count on a variety of tactics to ensure they are doing their best to make responsible alcohol sales.

The first defense for sales professionals is a thorough knowledge of local and state laws, and mandatory alcohol awareness training. Alcohol awareness training from TAM of Nevada will teach you how to spot fake, altered and borrowed identification, which is popular with teen drinkers. Also remember that TAM® Cards expire after four years, contact TAM® of Nevada if you need to renew your training. Officials may ask to see your alcohol awareness card during an alcohol compliance check.

Some companies, such as 7-11, are also implementing additional procedures to ensure they are making safe and legal alcoholic beverage sales. As reported by KRNV Reno, 7-11 recently installed ID scanners at all of their store locations across Nevada (KRNV Reno). Hopefully, additional safeguards such as ID scanners will deter teens from attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages altogether. ID scanners can be helpful in determining whether an ID is the real deal, and some can also quickly do the math for determining the age of the person represented by the ID. Remember, anyone selling or serving alcoholic beverages needs to confirm that the person represented by the ID is in fact the person standing in front of them. 7-11 notes that their staff is not relying on scanners alone. Staff members continue to follow company procedure in using the skills garnered during alcohol awareness training to ensure that customers are using legitimate identification that belongs to them. For more information about ID scanners, check out our blog post, “ID Scanners – Friend or Foe?

What are your experiences regarding the use of ID scanners?


© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada