The Smart Choices Program is about changing views of alcohol service and safety in the tourism/hospitality industry. The consumption of alcohol has changed. Public attitudes have changed. Laws and regulations have changed. Employees and employers who serve alcohol need to understand their role in response to this new business environment.
- The public is focusing on reducing alcohol-related problems, particularly drinking and driving.
- Young people are more aware of alcohol-related problems and taking action to be more responsible (Safe Grads, Designated Driver Programs, etc).
- Establishments and servers are increasingly being held responsible for injuries related to intoxication.
- Profits are dropping due to a trend of reduced alcohol consumption.
- Laws and regulations have been amended in response to the changing environment.
- The industry is also being pro-active in light of recent incidents involving security personnel in licensed establishments.
Hotels, restaurants, clubs and bars are looking at new plans for keeping or improving profits within the changing times of alcohol regulation and alcohol consumption. Many establishments are moving towards more responsible alcohol service. The goal is to run a profitable business while reducing alcohol-related problems. The main concerns are impaired driving and alcohol-related lawsuits against both servers and licensed premises.
In putting this program together there was consultation with many managers, bartenders and servers who serve alcohol in very different environments (restaurants, lounges, nightclubs, country clubs, conventions, special functions, sporting events and bars). We also acquired feedback from the employees who are responsible for providing a safe environment in these establishments. Many people from both groups found themselves in a difficult position. They know the benefits and enjoyment that good food and drink can bring to the people they serve. However, they also live in a world full of messages about impaired driving and other problems related to alcohol. They know that people sometimes leave their place of business after having too much to drink.