The Westside Impact Project has announced the results of its second “Recognition and Reminder” operation, during which four out of 12 Santa Monica alcohol outlets failed to ask for identification when a young-looking decoy tried to buy alcohol.
In a “Recognition and Reminder” operation, a youthful over-21-year-old attempts to purchase a six-pack of beer at liquor stores and markets around Santa Monica.
If the sales clerk asks for identification, the decoy presents a card congratulating the establishment for properly checking ID. If the sales clerk fails to ask for identification, the decoy presents a card ‘reminding’ the vendor that checking ID prevents sales to minors.
The operation was conducted as part of the Westside Impact Project’s county contract to reduce underage drinking in Santa Monica.
“Our goal is to create the most responsible retail alcohol culture possible in Santa Monica,” said Tiffany Burgess, Westside Impact Project Coordinator. “Most retailers are serious about not selling to minors, but there are those that don’t care enough. We were disappointed four out of 12 stores failed to check ID. There’s clearly room for improvement.”
Recognition and Reminder operations carry no real legal consequences for alcohol establishments.
According to the Project, they are intended to positively reinforce good business practices. Recognition and Reminder initiatives have long been used as a tool in preventing tobacco sales to youth and are increasingly being used in underage drinking prevention efforts.
The Project conducted its first Recognition and Reminder operation in June of this year, which yielded similar results – three out of ten liquor stores failed to card.
Plans are in the works for two additional Recognition and Reminder initiatives, both of which will take place within the next six months.
The teams conducting the operations are also notifying retailers of real Minor Decoy Operations that are being carried out by the Santa Monica Police Department over the next year.
In Minor Decoy Operations, under law enforcement direction, a decoy younger than 20 years of age attempts to purchase alcohol at licensed establishments.
A first-time sale may result in a fine or license suspension. A second sale to a minor within a three year period is an automatic license suspension. A third sale to a minor within a three-year period may result in license revocation.
“Overall, this work is intended to create a powerful deterrent effect that will prevent the illegal sale of alcohol to minors,” said Burgess.
The data indicates that underage drinking and minors’ access to alcohol are issues of concern in Santa Monica.
In the 2011 California Healthy Kids Survey, 75 percent of Santa Monica High School juniors reported that alcohol was “Very Easy” to get.
Twenty-six percent reported engaging in at least one episode of binge drinking (five or more drinks in one session) within the previous 30 days.
For more information about the Westside Impact Project, visit www.westsideimpactproject.org or follow their work @westsideimpact on Facebook and Twitter.