One strategy to reduce alcohol misuse among youth is to change the way that alcohol is promoted in stores and restaurants that can be attractive to underage people or that promotes excessive consumption. Merrimack Safeguard, with the help of a nursing student at Rivier University, conducted an Environmental Scan in December 2012.
We were able to collect data on 34 of the 43 liquor licensees in Merrimack with promising results. First, all but one (96%) had visible signs posted indicating they would not sell to minors. In addition, 81% of convenience and grocery stores that sell beer and wine kept the alcohol in a separate cooler from soda, juice and water. Further, 84% of alcohol selling establishments did not have product placement that encouraged binge drinking (such as ping pong balls and large red cups sold beside beer). Finally, 60% of liquor licensees did not have alcohol advertisements visible from outside of their establishment.
A follow up letter was sent to liquor retailers commending those that were following national best practices to reduce underage drinking, and encouraging others to consider the potential unintended consequences some signage and product placement can pose to young people.