By Aaron Graffman
OSU Prevention Programs
Throughout the year, Region 9 Regional Prevention Coordinator (RPC) and the Okmulgee County Drug Free Communities (DFC), offer free Responsible Service and Sales Training to all Okmulgee County Alcohol Vendors.  The purpose of these trainings is to educate sellers and servers about alcohol laws, the importance of not selling alcohol to minors, how to recognize fake IDs, and how to read IDs.
One of the laws discussed at Responsible Service and Sales Training is the “Prevention of Youth Access to Alcohol Act.”  This is an Oklahoma state law that protects youth from the harmful effects of alcohol use by making it illegal to provide or sell alcohol or low point beer to anyone under the age of 21.  This law is continually being enforced by law enforcement agencies. If this harmful substance is sold to a person under the legal age, the contributor will face legal consequences consisting of an expensive citation, possible jail time, and/or felony charges.   
Providing alcohol to youth not only has legal consequences for the merchant, but there are also harmful effects for the child.  Youth who drink are more likely to do poorly in school, engage in risky sexual behavior, get in accidents, become violent, and do poorly in social situations.  According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “excessive alcohol consumption contributes to more than 4,600 deaths among underage youth, that is, persons less than 21 years of age, in the United States each year.”
Okmulgee County Law Enforcement Agencies will be checking stores to make sure they are compliant with state laws to protect the health of local youth.  During these checks an undercover officer will send underage youth into the store to attempt to purchase 3.2 beer or alcohol.  The youth that are involved will have undergone an age perception test to ensure they do not look old enough to purchase alcohol.  They are also trained to not lie if asked their age or if they are 21. RPC Director, Margaret Black stated, “the purpose of the checks is not to trick the vendor.  We don’t want the youth to be able to make the purchase.”  
 Responsible Service and Sales Trainings are important to increase the compliance of state alcohol laws at local vendors.  Black also expressed that Okmulgee County is fortunate to have so many agencies committed to protecting local youth from the harmful and addictive problems associated with under age access to alcohol.  “We have merchants wanting to learn new ways to not sell products that are harmful to kids” said Black.  “We also have dedicated local, county and state law enforcement officers that work hard to protect our youth.”
Region 9 RPC, funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health Substance Abuse Service and Okmulgee County DFC, will be holding more Responsible Service and Sales Training for Okmulgee County alcohol vendors.  For more information about getting merchant training please contact Margaret Black or Aaron Graffman at (918) 756-1248.