Alcohol Compliance Checks were conducted Saturday on 21 local businesses, which are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. A compliance check is a tool to identify alcohol establishments that sell alcohol to underage youth. The checks were coordinated by local law enforcement, the Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement Commission (ABLE), Wichita Mountains Prevention Network (WMPN), and student volunteers. The youth volunteers (under the age of 21) assist law enforcement as underage buyers. The students entered the businesses and attempted to purchase alcoholic beverages. Out of the 21 checks done, a total of three retail establishments were NOT in compliance.
Illegal alcohol use by underage minors contributes to various crimes, car crashes, injuries, and even deaths across the State of Oklahoma. Public health officials report that alcohol use and abuse are also associated with sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, sexual assault, and other health problems. We have learned that the community and our youth are safer and healthier when they don’t start using alcohol until after they are 21 years of age.
Also Saturday, the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network (WMPN) partnered with Jackson County Tobacco Education Committee (JCTEC), Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), and the Blair Police Department to conduct Reward Reminder Visits on two local businesses in Blair. Two checks were conducted, and both were failed to comply with the law.
During these Reward Reminder Visits a team of adults, Blair Police Department and underage youth visited the retail establishments where the youth attempts to purchase tobacco products. The youth were allowed to purchase the tobacco products at both retail establishments in Blair. The establishments that sold were both cited with furnishing tobacco to a minor.
Reward Reminder Visits are designed to commend clerks and retailers who refuse to sell tobacco products to minors. The research-based outreach program encourages retailers to comply with Oklahoma’s statues making it illegal to sell any tobacco product to minors. Every year tobacco kills over 440,000 people in the US. In order for the tobacco industry to stay in business it has to attract young people to become replacement smokers. Nearly 90 percent of adult tobacco users started in their teens.
The Wichita Mountains Prevention Network will be providing Responsible Beverage Service and Sales Training (RBSS) on March 4 at the Jackson County Health Department. This is a free training offered to retail establishments that sell 3.2 beer and alcoholic beverages in Jackson and Harmon Counties. The purpose of the RBSS Training is to provide establishments with the knowledge and skills to sell and serve alcoholic beverages safely, responsibly and legally. The goal is to ensure that expectations, liabilities and legal responsibilities are communicated to all licensees and their employees. This training was developed as a partnership by the Oklahoma ABLE Commission, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Oklahoma Prevention Policy Alliance and the Oklahoma Prevention Network. The Wichita Mountains Prevention Network will provide this training, and all who participate will receive a certificate of completion.
Congratulations to the establishments that did not sell alcohol to underage youth. If you would like more information pertaining to the RBSS Training, please contact Kim Booker at the Wichita Mountains Prevention Network –Region 11 Prevention Coordinator at (580) 355-5246.
The committee also works hard to educate tobacco users about tobacco cessation resources. The OK Tobacco Helpline is available and free to everyone, 1-800 QUIT NOW. Services are available in Spanish and many other languages. For direct access to the Spanish Quit Line call 1-800-793-1552. The deaf and hard of hearing may access the TTY Quit Line at 1-877-777-6534 or Videophone at 1-866-748-2436 (ask for direct VP number.
The tobacco industry spends approximately $186 million in Oklahoma and $13.4 billion across the nation each year advertising its deadly products. Published research studies have found that kids are twice as sensitive to tobacco advertising as adults. Youth are more likely to be influenced to smoke by cigarette marketing than by peer pressure, and one-third of underage experimentation with smoking is attributed to tobacco advertising. Since young children are seen by Big Tobacco as replacement smokers, educating the youth of this community is a large part of the mission of the JCTEC. JCTEC also seeks to change social norms and policies surrounding tobacco use.
Approximately 35, 000 Oklahomans called the Quit Line in 2011. Helpline Quit Coaches are highly trained in applying motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy. They use these techniques to address negative thoughts that keep participants from success. Nicotine replacements treatment is available through the helpline. Most participants are eligible for a two-week starter kit that includes nicotine gum, patches and lozenges.
For more information about the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, go to www.ok.gov/helpline/ for more information about quitting tobacco use go to: www.smokefree.gov. If you would like more information pertaining to the Reward Reminder Visits or JCTEC, please contact Kim Booker at Wichita Mountains Prevention Network at (580) 355-5246.