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Becki Andrist, News Director
It’s an unconventional tool in the fight against underage drinking, but the recent Alcohol Purchase Surveys in Omak showed retailers were doing their job when it comes to alcohol sales.
Unlike compliance checks where officials send an underage person into establishments to try to purchase alcohol under the supervision of undercover cops, the purchase surveys are a bit different. On Wednesday night, I had the opportunity to accompany Andi Ervin, Executive Director of the Okanogan County Community Coalition as she and a very young looking 23-year-old ventured into local retail stores. This strategy is part of a small, short-term grant received by the Okanogan County Community Coalition from Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery to reduce access and increase enforcement of underage drinking laws.
In the purchase survey’s the young woman, who again was 23-years-old but looks about 17, goes into the store, goes to the alcohol section, picks up a bottle and heads to the checkout counter. That is where the test begins. Will the clerk ask for ID or not…again, she is legally old enough to make the purchase, but really does not look like she is.
The good news is that every time she went in, every clerk did ask for identification. Of course the second part of the test is that she says, “oh I left it in the car, I’ll be right back.” And not one of those clerks gave in and sold it to her anyway.
So to the retailers in Omak, I thank you, not just as a supporter of the Community Coalition, but as a parent and a grandparent. According to a survey of the community, 9 out of 10 adults don’t approve of underage drinking…apparently that message has been received by Omak businesses as well.