According to a recent study:
- Every 36 hours a juvenile in Collier County goes to the hospital as a result of a alcohol or drug overdose;
- Alcohol is the most commonly used drug among Collier County students;
- Alcohol use by underage drinkers is a major public health and public safety problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol is a major factor in the four leading causes of death among young people in America: traffic crashes, homicides, injuries and suicides.
- Drug and alcohol related injuries and illnesses cost businesses over 60 billion dollars per year.
It is with these somber statistics in mind, that the Marco Island Police Department once again conducted its on-site merchant education program with the goal of reducing or eliminating the sale of alcohol to underage persons. This education program is one component of a continual effort to increase the safety of Marco Island residents and visitors. Other phases of the overall plan include the Department’s P.R.E.P. seminars (Preparing Retailers Education Program), D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), and various collaborations with Drug Free Collier.
Understanding that any merchant could be targeted by a youth seeking alcohol, the Marco Island Police Department sought to provide education and training to the diverse group of eighty-two merchants on the Island who are licensed to sell alcohol. Licensees, including both on-site vendors such as hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as off-site outlets, such as liquor or grocery stores were included in this educational campaign.
The merchant education program is designed to promote voluntary compliance among both business owners, as well as employees. It also stresses awareness of the affiliated dangers of underage sales and consumption of alcohol to our youth, in addition to the risks and liability borne by the merchant and their employees.
Marco Island Police Officers visited retailers to distribute message specific items that could be used to warn underage persons as well as materials which stressed the importance of obtaining identification from those seeking to purchase alcohol, summarizing the laws and penalties regarding sales to underage persons, and facts regarding the dangers of under-age drinking. Finally materials were shared which highlighted how the Marco Island Police Department and its allied law enforcement partners conduct compliance checks to verify that merchants are following the various regulations and laws affiliated with alcohol sales.