On February 23, 2021 compliance checks were conducted on 22 Comanche County alcohol retailers. The checks, used to identify establishments that sell alcohol to underage youth, were coordinated by the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission (ABLE) and Wichita Mountains Prevention Network (WMPN). They were assisted by student volunteers (under the age of 21) posing as underage buyers who entered the businesses and attempted to purchase alcoholic beverages. Of the 22 checks completed, 19 retailers were in compliance, which is an 82% compliance rate for Comanche County, far surpassing the 60% compliance rate in September 2020.” We are very pleased with 82%, because that is an increase of 12% percent in just a few months. The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately caused a rise in substance abuse, so it is crucial that retailers are in compliance, and routine checks have been shown to be an effective strategy in reducing underage drinking,” said Bekah Fountain, Regional Prevention Coordinator for WMPN.

WMPN is committed to creating safe communities through proven prevention strategies. After conducting a thorough data assessment last fall, WMPN has determined that Comanche County should continue to receive services to prevent the current issue of underage drinking. Illegal alcohol use by minors contributes to higher crime rates, car crashes, injuries, and even deaths across the state of Oklahoma. Public health officials report that alcohol use and abuse is also associated with sexually transmitted diseases, teenage pregnancy, sexual assault, and other health problems. Youth are safer and healthier when they don’t start using alcohol until after they are 21 years of age.

WMPN is grant funded by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS). Strategies for this Comanche County plan include alcohol compliance checks and responsible beverage sales and service training with alcohol retailers. Due to the

COVID-19 gathering restrictions the trainings are all currently virtual. If a retailer would like to attend training they can email Bekah Fountain at rfountain@wmpn.org or call 580-355-5246 ext. 103.

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