Oklahoma Spotlight: Model Policy Development for Alcohol Retailers

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In the following Q&A, we hear from the Director of the Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC) at the University of Oklahoma (OU) Southwest Prevention Center. OU’s Southwest Prevention Center serves Cleveland and McClain Counties as the RPC for Region 8 of Oklahoma’s 17-region alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse (ATOD) prevention system.

Summary

While working with local alcohol retailers to ensure responsible sales and service within the community, we identified a need for a simple checklist and sample model policy that would be easy to reference for both retailers with policies (to compare and enhance their existing policies) and retailers without formal written policies to consider adopting.

How did you develop this idea?

In an effort to reduce youth access to alcohol and prevent the over-service of alcohol to patrons of age in Oklahoma partnerships were developed with local law enforcement agencies, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and Regional Prevention Coordinators.  Plans were developed that included Responsible Beverage Sales and Service (RBSS) Training, Alcohol Compliance Checks and Bar Checks to ensure that local alcohol establishments were informed of the Oklahoma Alcohol Laws and that the establishments followed the laws. The Region 8 RPC collected copies of alcohol retailers’ policies and procedures to identify key components needed to inform employees about their responsibility for legal and safe alcohol sales and service. RPC staff found it challenging to identify what would constitute a “good policy” for alcohol retailers. In discussions with the community coalition, it became clear that a guidance document would be useful for alcohol retailers.

How did you create the model policy?

Staff met with local retailers within identified “hot spot” areas (areas where there had been high rates of noncompliance and identified over-service issues).  Although not all retailers had written policies, those that did were able to share the information with the staff.  These policies were in turn brought to the Cleveland County Health Improvement Plan-Substance Abuse Work Group to review.  Taking from the submitted policies, the coalition highlighted the criteria that would constitute a good solid policy. Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC) Staff took the recommendations of the retailers and coalition, along with information from the ODMHSAS RBSS training manual and created a checklist and model policy for distribution to all area retailers. These materials are now available for RPCs through the RPC password protected RBSS site.

How much did it cost? How much staff time did it take?

The cost is in printing and distribution of the guidance document to each of the retailers. Staff time was substantial in collection of the written policies and preparation for the coalition meetings while volunteer time through the coalition occurred during normal monthly coalition meetings.

What other partners were engaged? How did they participate?

Specifically for this project, our partners included the Cleveland County Health Improvement Plan Substance Abuse Work Group (coalition tasked with reviewing policies and identifying key components), The Winston (provided a written policy that became a model for the sample) and RPC Region 8 (collecting local alcohol retailer policies, compiling policies, presenting policies at the community coalition meeting, prioritizing the components for the guidance document, securing permissions from any retailer needed, editing the document, obtaining approvals and finalizing the document).

What challenges did you encounter?

We found few retailers willing to share policies, but when we did, they were more than willing to share their policies in the creation of the guidance document.

How did this move your work plan forward? Or, what specific part of your work plan was achieved?

We were able to complete the assessment phase of the AEP. This process has also opened the door to establish relationships and partnerships with alcohol retailers as we offer Responsible Beverage Sales and Service (RBSS) Training. The guidance document provides an opportunity to speak to alcohol retailers who might not be willing to talk openly about their policies. We have at least one alcohol retailer interested in joining the community coalition. This also provided an opportunity for RPC staff to share our belief that alcohol retailers are part of the solution rather than the source of the problem-which ultimately encourages cooperation and participation.

Where are you planning to take this idea in the future?

This guidance document focused on bars and restaurants. However, in the future we would like to create guidance documents for other types of alcohol retailers and settings.

Questions?

Special thanks to Charlene Shreder, Director of the Regional Prevention Coordinator at University of Oklahoma Southwest Prevention Center, for contributing to this Q&A. Charlene’s contact information is listed below.

Phone: 405.325.4282

Email: cshreder@ou.edu

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