Local restaurants, stores attend training to prevent underage drinking

Posted:  Friday, August 11, 2017 - 8:45am

While it is illegal for youth to drink alcohol, 57 percent of Lincoln County high school students feel it would be easy to get alcohol if they wanted some, according to the 2015 Maine Youth Health Survey. Healthy Lincoln County partnered with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to provide local restaurants, bars and stores with three Responsible Beverage Server trainings this spring and summer.

Youth may sometimes access alcohol through social connections, such as friends or family, or they may access it through retail sources. To help address the retail sources, the trainings, taught by Chief Deputy Rand Maker and Sgt. Mark Bridgham, engaged alcohol sellers and servers in learning about effects of alcohol on patrons, ways to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors, Maine liquor laws and more. Currently, there are approximately 140 active liquor license holders in Lincoln County. About 66 employees from 25 of those businesses completed the training.

“The training is a great opportunity to build connections between law enforcement and liquor license holders. It allows a space for open conversation and questions that can give them the confidence in their jobs and tools to create clear alcohol policies for their business,” says Maker.

Business owners use this training to equip their staff with knowledge and skills to spot minors’ fake identification and reduce youth access to alcohol. The training emphasizes the important role stores, bars, and restaurants play in preventing underage drinking and drinking to excess. Additionally, by completing the training, businesses may be eligible for insurance rate reductions. 

Kate Marone, director of Healthy Lincoln County, echoes Maker’s position and adds that, “there’s a misperception among our youth that, ‘everybody’s drinking’; but in reality, four out of five Lincoln County high school students don’t drink alcohol on a regular basis.Prevention science tells us that teens are more likely to drink if they think it’s easy to access, so by making it more difficult to access, we hope to decrease their use.”

Offering this training is part of the effort of the Lincoln County Substance Use Prevention Partnership, a coalition of local community members, partners, and youth working to prevent and reduce youth alcohol and drug use. They hope to continue to offer it on a regular basis. Special thanks to the Skidompha Library, Lincoln County, and the Boothbay Region YMCA for providing training facilities.

Healthy Lincoln County is available to business owners and community members interested in learning more about the risks of youth substance use, and in being part of the solution. Please contact Kate Marone for more information at kmarone@healthylincolncounty.org, (207) 563-1330.