By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Several organizations are offering free training for local alcohol retailers to help increase compliance rates with Oklahoma alcoholic beverage laws.
PreventionWorkz Executive Director Sean Byrne said not selling alcohol to underage youths is one of the primary focuses of Garfield County Drug and Alcohol Coalition.
“The earlier someone begins drinking, the more likely they are to be alcohol dependent in later life,” said Byrne. “Over 40 percent of individuals who start drinking before the age of 13 will develop alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some point in their lives, and 95 percent of the 14 million people who are alcohol dependent began drinking before the legal age of 21.
“That’s why it’s so important to keep alcohol out of the hands of underage youth.”
He said instruction was being offered to help area retailers with training and teach them how they can help prevent underage drinking.
“The vast majority of our local retailers are trying to do the right thing, so this training just gives them increased tools and techniques to not only protect themselves, but help protect the community they live in,” Byrne said.
Compliance rates for alcohol laws have improved since September 2012, when only 52 percent of retailers visited refused to sell to a minor. That rate improved to an 83 percent rate during checks conducted in December.
“The numbers so far are extremely encouraging. Local law enforcement has, in a very short period of time, made a tremendous impact on underage sales.” Byrne said. “There’s still room for improvement but the numbers are heading in the right direction.”
The Retail Beverage Service and Sales Training will be conducted 1-4 p.m. Feb. 22 at the YWCA Enid, 525 S. Quincy.
The training is a collaboration between the ABLE Commission, PreventionWorkz Regional Prevention Center for Grant, Garfield, Kingfisher, Logan, Major and Alfalfa counties, and Garfield County Drug and Alcohol Coalition, with funding through Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Those planning to attend need to contact PreventionWorkz Prevention Specialist Mari Spurlock at (580) 231-3991 or via email at mari.spurlock@prevention workz.org as soon as possible to reserve a seat as seating will be limited.