Last updated: January 23. 2014 7:23PM - 291 Views
By Natalie Netzel nnetzel@civitasmedia.com

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NEWBERRY — Westview Behavioral Health Services has an educational program for retailers in the county that could help reduce underage access to tobacco and alcohol.

PREP — the Palmetto Retailers Education Program — is approved by the S.C. Department of Revenue and the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services.

The legal age in South Carolina for buying tobacco products is 18 and the the legal age for buying alcohol is 21 but according to the Food and Drug Administration, customers who look younger than 27 should be asked to show their identification.

It’s suggested to ask for identification from those who look younger than 35.

PREP program trainees can include hotel and motel managers, food and beverage managers, restaurant and bar owners and managers, liquor store owners and managers, convenience store owners, managers and employees, grocery store owners, managers and employees, law enforcement officers, alcohol beverage servers and special events coordinators.

Once managers or employees are trained, the business receives a PREP certification card that is good for two years and a participant manual.

With PREP, the business can receive lowered rates for alcohol liability insurance and a recognized reason to ask for lower alcohol license administrative fines.

The program is a four-hour course that helps reduce underage people getting access to alcohol and tobacco products while also lowering the liability risks for businesses and their employees.

Those trained will recognize that they have a legal responsibility not to sell alcohol or tobacco products to underage children, understand state laws about selling alcohol and tobacco products, know the correct procedures for checking IDs and understand how to refuse service to underage youth and intoxicated customers.

The penalties for selling alcohol to someone under 21 can include a fine up to $680 or 30 days in prison along with a mandatory completion of an approved merchant education program.

Contact Westview at 276-5690 for more information. Visit www.prepmerchanted.com for information about the PREP program.

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