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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Area liquor stores, clubs sign on to safety measures with URI’s Common Ground campaign

Media Contact: Jhodi Redlich, 401-874-4500

Agreements strengthen businesses’ commitment to prevent
underage, excessive alcohol consumption

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. -- October 12, 2005 -- University of Rhode Island and Narragansett town officials today announced that package store owners and many of the bar and night clubs in Narragansett have signed cooperative agreements with URI’s Common Ground initiative to promote responsible alcohol beverage services. The announcement was made at a ceremony this morning at the Narragansett Towers at 36 Ocean Road.

Part of the University’s RhodeMap to Safety campaign, the participation of area vendors is seen as a vital step in preventing sales of alcohol to minors and excessive consumption by bar and tavern patrons.

“All of the owners participating in the program will be posting a sign in their storefront showing that their establishment is a member in good standing,” said Fran Cohen, URI dean of students and director of Common Ground. “The signs which state Responsible Alcohol Beverage Service Practiced Here, will remind the public, including URI students, that town and University officials are united in our resolve to prevent alcohol problems in our community,” Cohen explained.

“This effort clearly shows that our alcohol retailers genuinely care about the health and well being of the people who live in and visit our town,” said Narragansett Police Chief David J. Smith. “With the Rhode Map partnership certificate, the message to the public is clear: We are concerned about public safety, and our state’s alcohol laws will be obeyed.”

URI’s Common Ground Cooperating Tavern Program calls on bar and tavern owners to train and work with their employees to follow responsible beverage service practices, including identification checks, confiscation of fake IDs, and refusing sales to patrons who are intoxicated. The Cooperating Package Store Program focuses on preventing illegal sales to customers under age21 as well as adult purchases of alcohol for minors.

The program responds to a new state law, enacted this past July and effective Jan. 1, that requires tavern owners to have new employees attend a certified responsible beverage service training program within 60 days of being hired. The Common Ground agreements signed go beyond this requirement by adding that employees be trained on ID-checking by the Narragansett police department, and that owners and managers make it clear to their staffs that they support responsible beverage service.

Participating vendors include: Charlie O's Tavern, Coast Guard House, Mahoney’s Irish Eyes, George's of Galilee, Okie's Bar & Grille, Pancho O'Malleys, Pelly's Place, The Wheel House, Leo's Pizza, Spain Restaurant, Wiley’s, Bonnet Liquors, and O'Neil's Package Store.

Interviews conducted this past summer by Common Ground staff with bar and tavern owners, managers, and wait staff revealed that underage drinking in their establishments was a top concern. Other areas of concern included the absence of safe alternative transportation for patrons and preventing fights and other disturbances. Those signing the agreement also promised to work toward future improvements in responsible alcohol retailing.

As part of the RhodeMap to Safety information campaign, URI’s Common Ground will be placing paid advertisements in the Narragansett Times and the South County Independent, as well as the URI student newspaper, The Good Five-Cent Cigar, to congratulate owners who signed the agreement.

Directed by Cohen and Associate Professor of Psychology Mark Wood, Common Ground is a five-year project funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) to support URI’s ongoing prevention work with the Town of Narragansett and on-campus Greek coalitions. Future activities being planned include a designated driver and other safe ride initiatives.

The University has long been seen as a leading institution in national efforts to reduce underage alcohol consumption, excessive drinking, and alcohol-impaired driving among college students. In 2002, President Robert Carothers completed three years of service on NIAAA’s Committee on Campus Drinking, which culminated with the publication of a research agenda for the nation. In 2004, Carothers received a College Leadership Award from the Center for College Health and Safety to recognize URI’s "no tolerance" policy toward violence and drug and alcohol abuse.

For more information about the Narragansett-URI Coalition
Click here for more about the RhodeMap to Safety campaign.
For background about URI's alcohol-related research, policies and programs.