By Crystal Thompson
The HELP (Havre Encourages Long-range Prevention) committee is sponsoring a Responsible Alcohol and Tobacco Sales (RATS) training to Havre business owners on Monday, March 12.
The RATS program trains servers and sellers of alcohol and tobacco to prevent access of age restricted products to those under the age of 21 and 18 respectively. RATS is one component of the Zero Tolerance for underage drinking campaign, which is funded by the Montana Board of Crime Control. The RATS training is designed for use by licensed establishments that serve alcohol and/or tobacco including bars, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores and casinos.
The workshop, conducted by local professionals, includes information and interactive class discussions on topics such as problems associated with underage drinking and youth access to tobacco products, checking identification and detecting fake identification, legal responsibilities of sales of alcohol and tobacco to minors, consequences to licensee and employees if illegal sales are made, ways to discourage youth from attempting to purchase from your establishment and strategies to provide the best customer service while restricting sales to minors.
RATS offers numerous benefits to business owners whose employees participate; trained servers reduce the risk of illegal sales being made, employees learn strategies to prevent youth from accessing alcohol and tobacco while still providing the best customer service and participants will be provided materials to share with co-workers.
Havre's RATS training will take place at the Townhouse Inn's Bear Paw Room from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with lunch provided. RATS trainers and local resources include Hill County Sheriff Tim Solomon; Havre Chief of Police Kevin Olson; HELP Committee members Robin Morris, Randy Bachmeier and Krista Young; Blaine County Sheriff's Office and the City and County Attorney's Offices. "The training furthers the efforts to prevent underage drinking in our area," said Young.
Throughout the next couple years, a multi-county task force, whose main focus is zero tolerance, will be conducting unannounced random compliance inspections of establishments holding liquor licenses in Hill, Blaine, Phillips, Liberty and Chouteau Counties.
If any employee of an establishment makes an alcohol sale to an underage person, that establishment is strictly liable under law. Compliance inspections resulting in a purchase by a minor will be prosecuted, including fines up to $500 and/or six months in jail.