ASAC Aims to Curb Drinking Issues with Alcohol Policy Risk Assessments

By Jill Kasparie, KCRG-TV9

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A group is working to combat alcohol issues by visiting nearly 150 bars and restaurants.

The Area Substance Abuse Council or ASAC provides prevention and treatment services in Eastern Iowa.

Now, it’s embarking on a new effort to reduce binge drinking, drunk driving and underage drinking.

Prevention specialists are traveling to places that serves alcohol in Linn, Benton and Jones Counties to conduct a free “Alcohol Policy Risk Assessment”.

So far, about 50 businesses have voluntarily agreed to take a look at their own policies.

Allen Zindrick likes to talk and laugh with his customers at his business in the Czech Village, but he knows there’s one topic that is no laughing matter.

“I would hate to see somebody go out and get in a car and drive away and injure themselves or somebody else,” Zindrick said.

Zindrick recently welcomed ASAC to his business, Smugglers Wharf and the Big-bam-boo bar, to discuss risks associated with alcohol service.

“One of the environmental strategies, the most effective environmental strategy is going to be to kind of combat this at the front lines, which are the bars, are restaurants, are the places that serve this alcohol,” said ASAC Prevention Specialist Jeffrey Meyers.

Meyers conducts the assessments to help identify good policies.

“We want the bars and restaurants — ‘hey, if this situation occurs, this is what they do’ because what we are finding is these bars, they don’t necessarily have the same approach. So, how one bar handles one situation might be different from how another handles another. So we want to identify what the best practices are and then try to get those standardized,” Meyers said.

ASAC offers suggestions such as having employees ID everyone, having alcohol cutoff procedures and having the business get rid of two-for-one specials.

“With that happy hour special specifically it’s a binge drinking concern. So it’s one thing to have discounted tall boys, it’s another thing to have two-for-ones,” Meyers said.

Zindrick said the assessment was a good reminder.

He said he’s not afraid to deny someone service who has had too much to drink.

“I just want them to be safe. That’s what it’s all about, people being safe,” Zindrick said.

The program is funded with federal and state grant money.

Prevention Specialists said the assessments are just the first step in creating change.

On Aug. 13, ASAC is inviting bar owners and anyone interested in fighting alcohol issues to a community discussion. It’ll be the beginning of a “Responsible Alcohol Service Committee.”

The meeting will be at 2 p.m. at Coffeesmiths at 2300 Edgewood Rd. SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

If you want to attend, ASAC asks that you RSVP if by contacting Jeffrey Meyers by calling (319)-390-1884 ext. 205. That’s also the number to contact if you’d like to find out more about the free restaurant/bar assessment.

l Comments: 319-398-8268; jill.kasparie@kcrg.com

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