Our US joint venture MillerCoors is working with bars, restaurants and retailers to help prevent underage access to alcohol
It’s a familiar refrain heard by any reasonably youthful-looking person seeking to buy alcohol in the United States, where the legal drinking age is 21.
MillerCoors position on underage drinking is equally straightforward: 21 means 21. The company works with a wide range of partners, including local law enforcement, parents, retailers, distributors, universities, community groups and industry associations, to help prevent underage access to alcohol.
One of its highest-profile underage access prevention programmes is Respect 21®, which was developed in partnership with Brandeis University and the Responsible Retailing Forum. Respect 21® launched in 2005 and since that time has reached 1,664 outlets in 49 communities.
Participating retailers, bars and restaurants receive point-of-sale materials and the H.E.L.P. (Hire smart, Educate and manage well, Look at and validate identification and Point-of-sale) Guide, which builds on federal government guidance. They are also visited by mystery shoppers, to test the responses of bartenders, servers or cashiers in terms of requesting ID before an alcohol-related transaction. Results of these visits, and suggested improvements, are shared confidentially with the participating organisation.
Respect 21® incorporates Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS®), a nationwide programme to train bartenders and servers to recognise potentially irresponsible alcohol-related behaviours and intervene where appropriate. In 2013, more than 3,300 individuals received TIPS® training courtesy of MillerCoors and distributor partners, bringing the total number who have benefited from this programme to more than 11,800 since it began more than two decades ago.
MillerCoors has also worked with the Responsible Retailing Forum to upscale the community-focused Respect 21® model into a state-wide version, enabling retailers from any location in the state to participate in the programme for a low annual fee. The new model was launched successfully in Wisconsin and work is now underway to extend it to Texas, Utah and New Mexico.