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Wisconsin County Cracks Down on Underage Sales

WAUKESHA, Wis. -- Local retailers will participate in a pilot program designed to prevent underage alcohol sales, according to a report in The Milwalkee Journal Sentinel .

Milwaukee's Miller Brewing Co. and the Sussex-based W.O.W. Distributing recently began a nine-month initiative to educate Waukesha County retailers about the best ways to verify age and refuse sale of alcohol to people under 21.

The Respect 21 Responsible Retailing Program will utilize methods used by national experts in preventing underage drinking, Kristin Kaplan Wolfe, director of alcohol responsibility initiatives with Miller Brewing Co, told The Journal Sentinel .

Business owners and their staff will be asked to respond to surveys in which their knowledge of laws will be tested. Mystery shoppers, ages 21 to 24, will purchase alcohol at the establishments and then report the employee’s actions to the owners. Promotional literature will be displayed near points of alcohol sales.

Data collected in the program will be compiled by Brad Krevor, a senior research associate in the Schneider Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. Krevor told the newspaper that the university will evaluate the surveys, the clerks' actions with the mystery shoppers and community attitudes toward underage drinking.

Krevor also noted retailers can improve their situation by changing their hiring process. Retailers need to make sure their clerks know how to read a driver's license and properly confront an under aged customer wanting to purchase alcohol, the report stated. Due to the high turnover rate of clerks, managers often do not have the time to train new employees shortly after they are hired.

A 2005 study by the National Association of Convenience Stores revealed a convenience store needs to make $45,450 in sales to pay for a $1,000 fine for selling to an underage person, while one hour of concentrated training costs a store $400 in sales.

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