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Under age drinking becomes major challenges

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Togiola Tulafono says training is ongoing for stores and their employees to ensure complete compliance with local laws dealing with underage drinking as more and more vendors are being cited for selling beer to persons under the age of 21.

Speaking on his weekend radio program, Togiola said training through the Responsible Beverage Service Training (RBST) is strongly emphasized because under age drinking is one of the major challenges and problems faced by the government every year, and stores, vendors and their workers are not working closely with the government to stop this problem.

RBST is a three-hour merchant education course that covers topics such as local alcohol laws - including those dealing with underage drinking; how alcohol effects the body; and how to refuse service to a customer. The course is opened to all staff o licensed alcohol vendors including owners, cashiers, managers, waiter/waitresses and bartenders.

Although the government is not getting any revenues from the RBST, Togiola says pushing this training is to ensure that stores and their workers fully comply with local laws, which clearly states that no licensee may sell any alcoholic beverage to any person under the age of 21.

He said training also looks at various ways to ensure that the law is followed, such as asking for the person’s identification, especially when there is doubt about the buyer’s age. He says the Department of Public Safety, Taitaitama Prevent Underage Drinking Initiative and others have joined forces to cracking down on stores selling to minors through “responsible buying” where an under age person poses as a buyer of alcohol to test the store and their workers, for full compliance with the law.

What has come out of this “responsible buying” scheme is that alot of stores and clerks do not comply with the law resulting in more cases filed in court, he said and noted that in the past couple of months there were alot of people taken to court for violating the law.

Togiola said that it has surfaced from these court cases that many stores and workers claims that they do not understand the law.

However, he said another issue that has come up is that residents or buyers are not compiling with the law. He said there are parents who send their underage children to buy their beer at the store and he urged adults not to carry out this illegal practice.

He said store owners and clerks cited for violating the law are now being told by the court to attend the RBST training program.  He called on store owners and operators to comply with the law and if in doubt as to the age of the beer buyer, ask for the person’s ID.

He said parents, families, relatives and adults should not use underage persons to buy their beer and this is the same for adults not to buy beer for youngsters.  He said there is a provision of the law which cites adults for sending underage person to buy beer.

“What is very important for everyone is to comply with the law,” he said and for adult beer drinkers, go buy your own beer and not use a youngster.

The Taitaitama in collaboration with DPS is conducting compliance check activities island-wide and it will run through the end of this year.



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